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SAJ-2019-00980 (SP-JLC)

Published May 24, 2019
Expiration date: 6/14/2019

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) as described below:

 

APPLICANT:  Main Street Ranchlands, LLLP

                      c/o Tyler Vansant

                      19503 S. West Village Parkway, Suite 14

                      Venice, FL 34923

                   

WATERWAY AND LOCATION:  The project would affect waters of the United States associated with the Myakka River watershed.  The project site is located to the south of Tamiami trail, west of West Villages Parkway, in Sections 31 and 32, Township 39, Range 20 East, and Section 05, Township 40 South, Ranch 20 East, Sarasota County, Florida.

Directions to the site are as follows:  From Tampa, travel south on I-75 to exit 191 / River Road (County Road 777).  Travel south on River Road and turn right (west) on Tamiami Trail (US 41).  Travel west on Tamiami Trail for approximately one mile and the site is located on the south side of the road, just past the intersection of West Villages Parkway.

 

APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES:  Latitude:  27.043305°

                                                                          Longitude: -82.328299°

 

PROJECT PURPOSE:

Basic:  Housing and retail

Overall:  To construct a mixed use single- and multi-family residential and commercial/retail development in the vicinity of U.S. 41 and S River Road near North Port, Florida, to meet local demand for these types of residential and commercial/retail uses in this area.

 

EXISTING CONDITIONS:  The site is 554 acres in size, the majority of which is characterized as uplands (444.3 +/- acres).  The uplands consists mostly of upland native habitats, including pine flatwoods (FLUCFCS 411) and hardwood-conifer mixed forest (FLUCFCS 434).  The remainder of the uplands consist of areas that were formerly used as pasture and are now being used as temporary construction staging areas for newly constructed Preto Boulevard.

The site contains twenty-five (25) wetlands, totaling 64.65 acres, and 45.17 acres of surface waters, including ditches, swales, reservoirs and ponds (measured at top of bank).  Most of the wetlands are characterized as freshwater marshes but contain dense coverage of shrubs (FLUCFCS 6417).  This community type seems to occur in most of the wetlands that have been ditched resulting in changes in the community structure relative to historic conditions.  The site also contains freshwater marsh systems with little shrub cover (FLUCFCS 641), willow heads (FLUCFCS 618), disturbed wetlands that are dominated by invasive and exotic vegetation (FLUCFCS 619), wet prairie habitat (FLUCFCS 643), and wetland creation areas dominated by cypress (FLUCFCS 621).  Most of these wetland systems are interconnected with ditches and swales that generally drain into the Myakka River through a series of off-site ditches and culverted road crossings to the north and east.  The coverage of shrubs and nuisance/exotic species in the wetlands are indicative of anthropogenic effects from fire suppression, past agricultural activities that introduced exotics and altered hydrology from the ditching.  Surface waters on the subject property consist of a large reservoir (FLUCFCS 533), ditches (FLUCFCS 513), drainage swales (FLUCFCS 514), and three (3) stormwater ponds (FLUCFCS 527).

 

SITE HISTORY:  The Corps previously permitted the permanent loss of 4.25 acres of wetlands for the construction of a medical campus within and in the vicinity of the current project site boundaries under permit number SAJ-1993-42329 dated February 09, 1998, issued to Sarasota County Public Hospital Board.  The completed work included 3.45 acres of wetland fill.  Required mitigation was carried out on-site and included 1.10 acres of forested wetland creation and 1.19 acres of littoral shelf creation, which was constructed adjacent to/within an excavated surface water intended for use as a stormwater pond.  The mitigation wetlands are present on the site, as shown on sheet 2 of the attached drawings.  Mitigation also included the preservation of 8 acres of wetlands in conservation easements.  The conservation wetlands within the current project site boundaries include Wetland 8A and Wetland 8B.  Currently proposed impacts to Wetland 8B are outside of the conservation easement boundaries.

 

PROPOSED WORK:  The applicant seeks authorization to permanently fill 3.49 acres of wetlands and 19.81 acres of surface waters (as measured at top of bank) for the construction of a mixed residential and commercial development known as “Main Street Villages.”

 

AVOIDANCE AND MINIMIZATION INFORMATION – The applicant provided the following information in support of efforts to avoid and/or minimize impacts to the aquatic environment: Development of this site cannot be achieved without impacting ditches or minor encroachments into a few wetlands.  Several site plan alternatives were evaluated to provide for avoidance and minimization of these impacts.  These alternatives included, but were not limited to, shifting lots and realigning roadways and other infrastructure to avoid wetlands and consideration of neighborhood design alternatives that would reduce or minimize the impact footprints.  Most of the wetland impacts are limited to wetlands that are either small, isolated systems, or significantly disturbed (i.e. drained from ditching and overgrown with invasive species) that are not considered to be viable in the long-term if avoided and surrounded by development.  Therefore, the higher quality wetlands will remain intact.

 

COMPENSATORY MITIGATION – The applicant offered the following compensatory mitigation plan to offset unavoidable functional loss to the aquatic environment: Mitigation for functional loss associated with unavoidable wetland impacts will be provided through the purchase of federal credits from the Myakka Mitigation Bank.

 

CULTURAL RESOURCES:  By copy of this public notice, the Corps is providing information for review.  Historic resources on this site were previously surveyed by Janus Research and coordinated through the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) as part of the permitting efforts for Preto Boulevard.  Janus Research conducted a Cultural Resource Assessment Study (CRAS) in 2007 that covered a large portion of this site (and contiguous lands totaling approximately 7,000 acres) in support of a Development of Regional Impact (DRI) application for the previous land owner that was never submitted.  Janus Research submitted the 2007 CRAS to the SHPO on June 13, 2017, which covered both the Atlanta Braves Spring Training Facility and the Preto Boulevard project.  The SHPO issued a concurrence letter on July 26, 2017, (DRH file number 2017-0716-D).  SHPO also requested a CRAS be conducted for the old hospital site since that was not covered under the 2007 CRAS report.  Therefore, Janus Research conducted a CRAS in 2017 specific to the former hospital site and found no resources that were considered eligible for listing in the National Register for Historic Places (NRHP).  SHPO issued a concurrence letter on October 30, 2017 (DHR file number 2017-0716-E), in response to the 2017 CRAS.  Based on the above information provided by the applicant, the Corps’ initial determination is that the project will not affect historic properties listed or eligible for listing in the NRHP.  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 determined the proposal may affect the eastern indigo snake (Drymarchon corais couperi).  The Corps will request initiation of formal consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act by separate letter. 

The Corps determined the proposal may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect the Florida scrub-jay (Aphelocoma coerulescens).  The Corps will request concurrence from the FWS pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act by separate letter.

The Corps determined the proposal may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect the wood stork (Mycteria americana).  The Corps evaluated potential impacts to the wood stork using the Effect Determination Key for the Wood Stork, dated May 18, 2010 (Key).  The Corps has programmatic concurrence with the sequential determination of A > B > C > E “not likely to adversely affect” pursuant to the Key.  As required by the Key, the applicant provided an analysis of foraging prey base losses and enhancements from the proposed action.  The Corps will provide this analysis to the FWS by separate letter.

 

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 project would affect inland freshwater resources.  Our initial determination is that the proposed action would not have a substantial adverse impact on EFH or federally managed fisheries.  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 jurisdictional status of the waters on-site 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 Tampa Permits Section, 10117 Princess Palm Avenue, Suite 120, Tampa, Florida 33610 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 and surface waters.  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, Jessica Cordwell, in writing at the Tampa Permits Section, 10117 Princess Palm Avenue, Suite 120 Tampa, Florida 33610, by telephone at (813)769-7067, by fax at (813)769-7061, or by electronic mail at Jessica.L.Cordwell@usace.army.mil.

 

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. 

 

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.