TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN: The Jacksonville District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) has received an application for a Department of the Army permit pursuant to Section 404 of the Clean Water Act (33 U.S.C. §1344) and Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 (33 U.S.C. §403) as described below:
APPLICANT: David Simpson
PO Box 1439
Gulf Breeze, FL 32562
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect waters of the United States associated with unnamed wetlands adjacent to Santa Rosa Sound. The project site is located south of Hwy 98, Parcel Number 28-2S-27-000-0600-000, in Section 28, Township 2 South, Range 2 West, Santa Rosa County, Florida.
Directions to the site are as follows: From downtown Pensacola, take Main Street/Bayfront Parkway east to the Pensacola Bay Bridge/Highway 98. Continue southeast through Gulf Breeze for 12.5 miles. The site is located on the south side of Gulf Breeze Parkway/Highway 98. (Camping World RV sales is located to the north and Smugglers Cove subdivision is located to the east.
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES: Latitude 30.399059° North
Longitude 86.961143° West
Basic: Residential Subdivision
Overall: Construct a single-family residential subdivision to accommodate the growing housing needs between Gulf Breeze and Navarre, in south Santa Rosa County, Florida.
EXISTING CONDITIONS: The project site is 92 acres. The wetland system consists of 27 acres of a palustrine forested freshwater system. The onsite vegetation consists of slash pine (Pinus elliottii), sweetbay (Magnolia virginiana), titi (Cliftonia monophylla), wax myrtle (Myrica cerifera), and gallberry (Ilex glabra). The project is bordered to the north by Highway 98, to the south by Santa Rosa Sound to the east by Smugglers Cove Subdivision, and the west by the Sunny Oaks Subdivision.
PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks authorization to fill a total of 1.65 acres of wetlands for the construction of a 246 lot single-family residential subdivision. The impacts consist of 0.67 acre of fill in wetlands for the primary entrance road located along an existing fill road (with a 180 linear foot piling supported bridged crossing) and 0.98 acre of fill comprised of jurisdictional ditches and one wetland complex along the eastern boundary of the site. The work also includes the construction of a fixed pier consisting of a 234 foot by 10 foot access pier and a 50 foot by 20 foot terminal platform. The proposed pier would be located within areas devoid of seagrass.
PERMIT HISTORY: The project was previously permitted on May 09, 2006 authorizing the discharge of fill over 1.59 acres of wetlands for the construction of a 164 lot residential subdivision. The permit required on-site permittee-responsible compensatory mitigation consisting of 11.47 acres of on-site wetland preservation and 9.0 acres of off-site wetland preservation through recording of conservation easements. The mitigation included the restoration of a 0.29 acre on-site fill road. Additionally, the permit required the restoration of 0.06 acre of an existing fill road in association with the construction of a bridge for the main access road, resulting in hydrologic enhancement of 3.3 acres of wetlands (not being preserved) along U.S. Highway 98. No portion of the previously authorized work has been initiated. However, conservation easements on 12.03 acres of on-site wetlands have been recorded.
AVOIDANCE AND MINIMIZATION INFORMATION – The applicant has provided the following information in support of efforts to avoid and/or minimize impacts to the aquatic environment:
“Avoidance was accomplished by the design of the wetland crossing within a previously constructed fill road in an attempt to avoid wetland impacts. Proposed wetland impacts are limited to only where necessary to achieve the project purpose and to provide necessary access to developable uplands and minor lot fill. Impacts associated with the road crossing constitute most of the proposed permanent wetland impacts. In addition, the applicant is proposing a twenty five foot upland buffer along the entire length of wetlands located within the plan of development to limit secondary and cumulative impacts to wetland resources. The upland buffer was not proposed within the previous authorized site plans.
Access to the Rosemary Sound S/D is via an 66-ft. wide ingress from SR 98. There are no alternatives to access the site that would have less impact on regulated resources. Santa Rosa County Planning/Life Safety requires the access configuration Subdivision/ boulevard entrance. The boulevard is comprised of two lane road with each lane 16-ft. in width and 4-ft. median island. The overall width of the boulevard is 41-ft. not including grading, and water and sewer piping which extend beyond the width of the boulevard. The applicant has avoided and minimized impacts to wetland resources via the use of a 180 ft. elevated bridge through the southern portion of the wetland road crossing.”
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION – The applicant has offered the following compensatory mitigation plan to offset unavoidable functional loss to the aquatic environment:
“The proposed project is not located within the service area of a state or federally approved mitigation bank or an approved in-lieu fee program; therefore permittee-responsible mitigation using a watershed approach is the only option available to the applicant. The applicant does control wetlands located within the property subject to this application and contiguous to the impact site. Therefore permittee-responsible mitigation through on-site and in-kind mitigation is preferred and available. Both the mitigation and impact sites are specially located in the Santa Rosa Sound Watershed (HUC 03140105) which is part of the larger Pensacola Bay Watershed.”
The applicant proposes the preservation of a total of 23.91 acres of on-site wetlands, 25.7 acres of off-site wetlands, and 3.79 acres of uplands. Preservation will be accomplished via recording of a conservation easement. (Note: 12.03 acres of on-site wetlands were previously preserved as a result of the original Corps authorization for the project site.) The applicant also proposes the restoration of 0.48 acre of wetlands through the removal of an existing fill road (along the northeastern portion of the site) and restoration of 0.06 acre of wetlands through the removal of a section of the existing fill road and the placement of a 180 linear foot bridge associated with the installation of the main access road for the subdivision (along the northwestern portion of the site). Removal of fill and placement of the bridge would also result in hydrologic restoration of adjacent wetlands.
CULTURAL RESOURCES: The Corps is aware of historic property/properties within or in close proximity of the permit area. The Corps has initiated consultation with the State Historic Preservation Office and those federally recognized tribes with concerns in Florida and the Permit Area, and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation as applicable pursuant to 33 CFR 325, Appendix C and Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act, by separate letter.
ENDANGERED SPECIES: The Corps has determined the proposed project may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect the Eastern indigo snake (Drymarchon corais couperi) as determined using the 2013 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) Eastern Indigo Snake Programmatic Effect Determination Key, following couplets A> B> C> D> E. The Corps has determined the proposed project may affect, but would not likely adversely affect the West Indian manatee (Trichechus manatus) as determined using the 2013 Manatee Key, following couplets A > B > C > G > H > I > J > L > N > O > P. The Corps has also determined the proposed project may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect the Gulf sturgeon (Acipenser oxyrinchus desotoi), Green turtle (Chelonia mydas), Loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta), Kemp’s ridley turtle (Lepidochelys kempii), and Smalltooth sawfish (Pristis pectinata). The Corps will request National Marine Fisheries Service concurrence with this determination pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act.
ESSENTIAL FISH HABITAT (EFH): This notice initiates consultation with the National Marine Fisheries Service on EFH as required by the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act 1996. The proposal would impact approximately 0.08 acres of estuarine subtidal habitat due to shading utilized by various life stages of 3 species of shark (blacktip, bull, spinner), red drum, 4 species of shrimp (brown, white, pink, and royal red), and 43 species of reef fish. Our initial determination is that the proposed action would not have a substantial adverse impact on EFH or Federally managed fisheries in Santa Rosa Sound. Our final determination relative to project impacts and the need for mitigation measures is subject to review by and coordination with the National Marine Fisheries Service.
NOTE: This public notice is being issued based on information furnished by the applicant. This information has not been verified or evaluated to ensure compliance with laws and regulation governing the regulatory program. The new jurisdictional line has not been verified by Corps personnel.
AUTHORIZATION FROM OTHER AGENCIES: Water Quality Certification may be required from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and/or one of the state Water Management Districts.
COMMENTS regarding the potential authorization of the work proposed should be submitted in writing to the attention of the District Engineer through the Pensacola Permits Section, 41 North Jefferson Street, Suite 301, Pensacola, Florida, 32502 within 21 days from the date of this notice.
The decision whether to issue or deny this permit application will be based on the information received from this public notice and the evaluation of the probable impact to the associated wetlands. This is based on an analysis of the applicant's avoidance and minimization efforts for the project, as well as the compensatory mitigation proposed.
QUESTIONS concerning this application should be directed to the project manager, Holly Millsap, in writing at the Pensacola Permits Section, 41 North Jefferson Street, Suite 301, Pensacola, FL 32502, by electronic mail at Holly.M.Millsap@usace.army.mil, by fax at (850) 433-8160, or by telephone at (850) 470-9823.
IMPACT ON NATURAL RESOURCES: Coordination with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the National Marine Fisheries Services, and other Federal, State, and local agencies, environmental groups, and concerned citizens generally yields pertinent environmental information that is instrumental in determining the impact the proposed action will have on the natural resources of the area.
EVALUATION: The decision whether to issue a permit will be based on an evaluation of the probable impact including cumulative impacts of the proposed activity on the public interest. That decision will reflect the national concern for both protection and utilization of important resources. The benefits, which reasonably may be expected to accrue from the proposal, must be balanced against its reasonably foreseeable detriments. All factors which may be relevant to the proposal will be considered including cumulative impacts thereof; among these are conservation, economics, esthetics, general environmental concerns, wetlands, historical properties, fish and wildlife values, flood hazards, floodplain values, land use, navigation, shoreline erosion and accretion, recreation, water supply and conservation, water quality, energy needs, safety, food, and fiber production, mineral needs, considerations of property ownership, and in general, the needs and welfare of the people. Evaluation of the impact of the activity on the public interest will also include application of the guidelines promulgated by the Administrator, EPA, under authority of Section 404(b) of the Clean Water Act or the criteria established under authority of Section 102(a) of the Marine Protection Research and Sanctuaries Act of 1972. A permit will be granted unless its issuance is found to be contrary to the public interest.
The US Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) is soliciting comments from the public; Federal, State, and local agencies and officials; Indian Tribes; and other Interested parties in order to consider and evaluate the impacts of this proposed activity. Any comments received will be considered by the Corps to determine whether to issue, modify, condition, or deny a permit for this proposal. To make this determination, comments are used to assess impacts to endangered species, historic properties, water quality, general environmental effects, and the other public interest factors listed above. Comments are also used to determine the need for a public hearing and to determine the overall public interest of the proposed activity.
COASTAL ZONE MANAGEMENT CONSISTENCY: In Florida, the State approval constitutes compliance with the approved Coastal Zone Management Plan. In Puerto Rico, a Coastal Zone Management Consistency Concurrence is required from the Puerto Rico Planning Board. In the Virgin Islands, the Department of Planning and Natural Resources permit constitutes compliance with the Coastal Zone Management Plan.
REQUEST FOR PUBLIC HEARING: Any person may request a public hearing. The request must be submitted in writing to the District Engineer within the designated comment period of the notice and must state the specific reasons for requesting the public hearing.