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 as described below:
APPLICANT: Local Greens Company, LLC
C/o Oskari Kariste
3510 Kraft Road, Suite 200
Naples, FL 34105
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect waters of the United States associated with Rock Creek-Naples Bay (HUC 10: 0309020406) located within the Big Cypress watershed. The project site is located at 8496 Rattlesnake Hammock Road - near the northeast corner of the intersection of Collier Boulevard and Rattlesnake Hammock Road, in Section 14, Township 50 South, Range 26 East, Naples, Collier County, Florida.
Directions to the site are as follows: From I-75, take Exit 101 (County Rd 951/FL-84 toward Naples/Marco Island); continue on County Road 951/Collier Blvd for approximately 4 miles; make a left onto Rattlesnake Hammock Road; continue on for ¼ mile and make a left to Florida Sport Park; the project area will be on your left.
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES: Latitude 26.112425°
Basic: The basic project purpose is commercial development.
Overall: The overall project purpose is to construct a commercial development in west central Collier County, Florida.
BACKGROUND: A 15.41 acre project area was previously destroyed as a result of a 26,000 acre wildfire that occurred within Collier County. The 15.41 acre project area was later cleared by Local Greens Company due to required safety measures per county requirements. On August 01, 2017, Corps Enforcement Section issued a Cease and Desist Letter to Local Greens Company, LLC for filling 0.62 acre of wetlands. Local Greens Company, LLC mechanically cleared the site of all vegetation and placed approximately 0.90 acre (0.62 acre wetlands and 0.28 acre uplands) of dirt on the site for an access road and fill pad between February and May 2017. It was determined that the wetland areas on site were historically hydric pine-flatwoods dominated by Melaleuca (Melaleuca). These wetlands are hydrologically connected via the 951 canal to Henderson Creek, a Traditional Navigable Waterway (TNW). Enforcement ultimately determined that the Local Greens project site consisted of 12.74 acres of cleared jurisdictional wetlands and 0.62 acre of filled jurisdictional wetlands prior to receiving a permit from the Corps. Local Greens Company, LLC submitted an After-the-Fact application on April 09, 2018 for the construction of a greenhouse on the 15.41 acre site. On May 08, 2018 Local Greens Company, LLC submitted signed tolling agreements and was approved by the Corps Office of Counsel.
EXISTING CONDITIONS: The 15.41 project area consists of a cleared area. Prior to the completed work, the project area consisted of hydric pine-flatwoods dominated by Maleleuca (Melaleuca), with greater than 75% exotic plant invasion. The parcel is bordered on the north, south and west by roads with developed land to the east (Florida Sports Park).
PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks authorization to place 22,000 cubic yards of clean fill material into 12.74 acres of freshwater wetlands in association with the construction of a greenhouse.
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:
When clearing of the property first commenced, it was limited to 6 acres for the greenhouse and its supporting infrastructure. The applicant also left a 25 foot buffer around the perimeter of the cleared area except at the entrance to the property which faced the road.
After the initial clearing was completed, the Florida wildfire (that consumed 26,000 acres in Collier County alone), spread to the subject property and engulfed the remaining acres. The entire property then had to be cleared since the destroyed trees were in danger of collapsing and were a danger and liability.
The vegetation was almost 100% exotics that are considered a nuisance and a danger to the community’s water supply. Removal was required by local authorities.
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION – The applicant has offered the following compensatory mitigation plan to offset unavoidable functional loss to the aquatic environment: As compensation for 12.74 acres of impacts to the jurisdictional wetlands, the applicant proposes to purchase 3.28 freshwater forested credits from a “local mitigation bank”.
CULTURAL RESOURCES: The Corps is not aware of any known historic properties within the permit area. By copy of this public notice, the Corps is providing information for review. Our final determination relative to historic resource impacts is subject to review by and coordination with the State Historic Preservation Officer and those federally recognized tribes with concerns in Florida and the Permit Area.
ENDANGERED SPECIES: The Corps has determined the proposed project “May Affect” the Florida Panther (Puma (=Felis) concolor coryi). The project is located in the Panther Focus Area and is greater than 1 acre in size. The Corps will request initiation of formal consultation with the Fish and Wildlife Service pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act by separate letter.
The Corps has determined that the proposed project may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect the Eastern Indigo snake (Drymarchon corais couperi). The Corps will request USFWS 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. Our determination is that the proposed project would have no adverse impact on EFH as the project site is located approximately 6 miles inland from the nearest tributary that leads into the Gulf of Mexico.
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 jurisdictional line has 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 Fort Myers Permits Section, 1520 Royal Palm Square Blvd., Suite 310, Fort Myers, Florida 33919 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, Michelle Bartley, in writing at the Fort Myers Permits Section, 1520 Royal Palm Square Blvd., Suite 310, Fort Myers, Florida 33919 or by electronic mail at firstname.lastname@example.org; or by telephone at (239) 334-1975 ext. 0006.
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: After reviewing all available information pertaining to the completed work, the Department of the Army has not recommended legal action at this time. Final determination regarding legal action will be made after review of the project through the permit procedure.
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.