US Army Corps of Engineers
Jacksonville District

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SAJ-1997-07656 (SP-BJC)

Published May 29, 2019
Expiration date: 6/13/2019

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:  Lennar Homes, LLC
                       6750 Forum Drive, Suite 310
                       Orlando, FL 32821

WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The Shingle Creek “Bronson Parcel” project would affect waters of the United States associated with the Kissimmee River Hydrologic Unit (Hydrologic Unit Code 03090101). The proposed project is located in Sections 6 and 7, Township 25 South, Range 29 East, Osceola County, Florida.

Directions to the site are as follows: Take the Greenway (SR 417) to the World Center Drive exit. Take World Center Drive to Kissimmee Vineland Road, head south. Go to Irlo Bronson Memorial Highway and head east. Turn left on Old Vineland Road then turn left onto Prince Lane. Turn left onto Babb Road and project site begins approximately half a mile to the north.

APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES:  Latitude: 28.329858°
                                                                          Longitude: -81.449726°

PROJECT PURPOSE:

Basic: Residential development

Overall: Development of a mixed-use community, including single and multi-family residential, within the Urban Growth Boundary of Osceola County.

PROJECT HISTORY: The Corps authorized Osceola Trace development (SAJ-1997-07656) to place fill in waters of the U.S. for development of a 768.0 acre site. Compensatory mitigation associated with this project included the purchase of an 803 acre parcel called London Creek Ranch and the re-establishment of wetlands on this parcel. SAJ-1997-07656, Modification 1, removed the 80 acre tract north of Osceola Parkway to be permitted under SAJ-2004-02181. This modification also authorized both a mitigation ledger and restoration and enhancement activities to generate 152 mitigation credits (referred to as functional units) on the 803 acre London Creek Ranch site. Since the authorization of the original permit, the permit has been transferred (Modification 2) to two different entities – Lennar Homes, LLC and Shingle Creek Community Development District. SAJ-1997-07656 expired on July 1, 2008 and was reauthorized, to include an additional 71.4 acres in the southern end of the site (Westgate Tract B), with a new expiration date of March 19, 2023. Modification 3 authorized the fill of 1.86 acres of waters of the United States for residential home construction in the 4.82± acre Storey Lake – Tract I-Phase 3B project area addition. Modification 4 authorized placement of fill in 4.42 acres of waters of the United States for construction of the Storey Lake Nature’s Ridge Drive roadway, a two-lane road. Under the original Corps permit, the roadway through the area now known as “Tract B” traveled along the western boundary of that parcel and terminated at the southern boundary. Modification 4 realignment calls for the roadway to travel along the eastern boundary of Tract B and then head east, crossing a tributary slough of Shingle Creek.

EXISTING CONDITIONS: On-site natural communities and/or land uses were classified using the Florida Land Use, Cover and Forms Classification System (FLUCCS, FDOT, 1999). These areas are described as:

Uplands
211 - Improved Pasture
This is the predominant upland land use within the project site. These pasture areas contain primarily Bahia grass, various species of panic (Panicum spp.) and Paspalum (Paspalum spp.) grasses as well as broom sedges (Andropogon spp.), flat sedges (Cyperus spp.), dog fennel (Eupatorium capillifolium), scattered live oak (Quercus virginiana) and laurel oak (Quercus laurifolia) and other common weeds. Wax myrtle (Myrica cerifera) has colonized in patches predominately around the perimeters. There are scattered occurrences of Brazilian pepper (Schinus terebinthifolius) in the upland pastures, as well.

Situated primarily in the northern portion of the property these areas appear as mostly semi-forested woodlands mixed with improved pastures. These areas appear on historic aerials as mostly citrus groves that have been long abandoned with the dominant canopy and sub-canopy species now primarily live oak, laurel oak, slash pine (Pinus elliottii), long leaf pine (Pinus palustris), and wax myrtle. Other species include grapevine (Vitis spp.), pokeweed (Phytolacca americana), American beautyberry (Callicarpa americana), dog fennel (Eupatorium capillifolium), broom sedge, and paw paw (Asimia spp.).

329 – Other Shrub and Brush
This cover type includes the area along the western side of the field road entering the site at the southwestern corner of the project. This area contains woody species typical of roadside areas.

427 – Live Oak
This cover type is in the southwestern corner of the project site. This area was historically a citrus grove, but is now primarily a live oak forest. Other species noted in this area includes Caesar weed (Urea lobata), American beautyberry, Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia), bromeliads (Bromeliacease spp.), grapevine, camphor tree (Cinnamomum camphora) and scattered Brazilian pepper.

Wetlands & Surface Waters
The Shingle Creek system shows intrusion of nuisance and exotic vegetation along the fringes. Damage from cattle grazing is evident within the edges of the wetlands. There is a network of ditches that cross the site, causing hydrologic alterations to the systems. The deeper parts of the forested wetlands are relatively intact without major nuisance and exotic species.

534 – Ditches (Upland Cut)
There are several ditches throughout the property and most appear along the borders of the wetlands or along the borders separating the different upland lobes. Some ditches contain a variety of aquatic and wetland plants including but not limited to duck potato (Sagittaria lancifolia), pickerel weed (Pontederia cordata), cattail (Typha spp.), primrose willow (Ludwigia peruviana), willow (Salix spp.), smart weed (Polygonum sp.), Caesar weed, wax myrtle, soft rush (Juncus effusus), climbing hempvine (Mikania scandens), Sesbania (Sesbania spp.), Rhynchospora (Rhynchospora spp.), poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans), buttonbush (Callicarpa americana), blackberry (Rubus spp.) and penny wort (Hydrocotyle spp.). Some of the shallower ditches are void of vegetation.

534 – Ditches (Wetland Cut)
When vegetated, the wetland-cut ditches include similar species as the upland cut ditches.

621 – Cypress
This includes the main large wetland system that surrounds and intertwines itself through the property. This diverse wetland system is a mixture of primarily mixed forested wetlands and cypress strands bordered by herbaceous or shrubby wetlands. This system is connected to Shingle Creek, Class III Waters. The forested areas contain cypress (Taxodium sp.), black gum (Nyssa sylvatica), cabbage palm, ash, sweet bay (Magnolia virginiana), swamp bay (Persea palustris), laurel oak, loblolly bay (Gordonia lasianthus), slash pine, red maple, dahoon holly (Ilex cassine), sweet gum, and wax myrtle, along with cinnamon fern (Osmunda cinnamomea), royal fern (Osmunda regalis), Virginia chain fern (Woodwardia virginica), shield ferns (Thelypteris spp.), and various other herbaceous and woody wetland plants. The edges of this system include numerous exotic/invasive species such as primrose willow, Carolina willow (Salix caroliniana), torpedo grass, Caesar weed, Brazilian pepper, and cattail.

641 – Freshwater Marshes
The wetland abutting the large forested wetland at the edge of the improved pasture includes herbaceous areas that include primarily (Juncus spp.), primrose willow (Ludwigia spp.), wax myrtle, flat sedges (Cyperus spp.), beak rushes (Rhynchospora spp.), spike rushes (Eleocharis spp.), carpet grass (Axonopus spp.), maidencane (Panicum hemitomon), coinwort (Centella asiatica), lizards tail (Saururus cernuus), water hyssop (Bacopa spp.), cord grass (Spartina bakerii), thistle (Cirsium spp.), and other wetland vegetation.

643 – Wet Prairies
These include extremely small areas within the pastures that include primarily bahia grass and scattered soft rush, but soils indicate that these areas may inundate at a frequency that they may be claimed as jurisdictional by the regulatory agencies (and they were included in the previous wetland delineations for this property).

PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks authorization to fill 7.13 acres of waters of the United States for development of single- and multi-family units on the Bronson Parcel.

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:

“The Applicant is proposing construction of both single-family homes and townhomes with the associated roads, stormwater and other infrastructure. The direct wetland impacts were targeted for the lower quality, transitional wetland systems while preserving the higher quality cypress systems.

Proposed project development will result in 2.60± acres of direct wetland impacts, representing less than 3% of the on-site wetlands. These direct wetland impacts are proposed to a small herbaceous wetland and to a lower-quality transitional wetland system. The largest direct wetland impact is proposed to Wetland C, which is a wet prairie system that has been hydrologically altered by the adjacent agricultural drainage ditch, and by decades of active cattle grazing. The other direct impact is to a 0.02± acre remnant portion of a wetland system adjacent to an agricultural ditch. The higher quality wetlands have been avoided to all extents possible and will remain in the post development condition.

The site plan as proposed will result in 4.53 ± acres of direct impact to existing agricultural ditches. Because some of the ditches were excavated in wetland soils and are vegetated with wetland plants, mitigation is being provided to offset the value of these systems.”

COMPENSATORY MITIGATION: The applicant has offered the following compensatory mitigation plan to offset unavoidable functional loss to the aquatic environment:

“Based on the MWRAP assessment for the proposed wetland impacts, a total of 4.61 Mitigation Units will be deducted from the 95.95 mitigation units available at the London Creek Mitigation Area as mitigation for Shingle Creek.”

CULTURAL RESOURCES:
The Corps is not aware of any known historic properties within the permit area, which is defined by the project boundaries, and no information was provided by the Applicant. The Florida Master Site File database does not indicate a cultural resource assessment survey would be required 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 action area includes the entire project site. The Corps has determined the proposed project “may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect” (NLAA) wood stork (Mycteria americana). The proposed activity is within the Core Foraging Area (CFA) of a rookery; the project supports marginally Suitable Foraging Habitat (SFH) for wood stork. Based on the Effect Determination Key for the Wood Stork in South Peninsular Florida (dated May 2010), the Corps determination sequence is as follows: A (Project impacts SFH at a location greater than 0.47 miles from a colony site) > B (Project impact to SFH is greater in scope than 0.5 acres) > C (Project impacts to SFH within the CFA of a colony site > E (Project provides SFH compensation) = NLAA. The project provides SFH compensation within the CFA consisting of enhancement, restoration or creation (and federal mitigation bank credits) that provides an amount of habitat and foraging function equivalent to that of the impacted SFH; in accordance with the Clean Water Act section 404(b)(1) guidelines, and is not contrary to the habitat management guidelines. The Corps has U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) concurrence for the proposed activities through use of the aforementioned determination key.

The Corps has determined the proposed project NLAA the Eastern Indigo Snake (Drymarchon couperi). Based on the Eastern Indigo Snake Programmatic Effect Determination Key (dated August 1, 2017), the Corps determination sequence is as follows: A (The project is not located in open water or salt marsh.) > B (The permit will be conditioned for use of the Service’s Standard Protection Measures for the Eastern Indigo Snake during site preparation and construction.) > C (The project will impact less than 25 acres of eastern indigo snake habitat.) > D (The project has holes, burrows or other refugia) > E (Any permit will be conditioned such that all gopher tortoise burrows, active or inactive, will be excavated prior to site manipulation in the vicinity of the burrow. If an indigo snake is encountered, the snake must be allowed to vacate the area prior to additional site manipulation in the vicinity. Any permit will also be conditioned such that holes, cavities, and snake refugia other than gopher tortoise burrows will be inspected each morning before planned site manipulation of a particular area, and, if occupied by an indigo snake, no work will commence until the snake has vacated the vicinity of proposed work) = NLAA. The Corps has USFWS concurrence for the proposed activities through use of the aforementioned determination key.

Based on existing habitat types and/or provided survey information, the Corps preliminarily determined the project will have no effect on bluetail mole skink (Eumeces egregious lividus) and sand skink (Neoseps reynoldsi), red-cockaded woodpecker (Leuconotopicus borealis), Everglades Snail Kite (Rostrhamus sociabilis plumbeus), Audubon’s crested caracara (Polyborus plancus audubonii), and Florida scrub-jay (Aphelocoma coerulescens).

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 7.13 acres of of mixed wetland hardwoods and cypress wetlands located in the headwaters of the Kissimmee River. Our initial determination is that the proposed action would not have a substantial adverse impact on EFH or Federally managed fisheries in the Kissimmee River. 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 line has not been verified by Corps personnel.

AUTHORIZATION FROM OTHER AGENCIES: Water Quality Certification will be required from the South Florida Water Management District.

COMMENTS regarding the potential authorization of the work proposed should be submitted in writing to the attention of the District Engineer through the Cocoa Permits Section, 400 High Point Drive, Suite 600, Cocoa, Florida 32926, within 15 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, Brandon J. Conroy, in writing at the Cocoa Permits Section (address above), by electronic mail at brandon.j.conroy@usace.army.mil or by telephone at (321) 504-3771 x11.

IMPACT ON NATURAL RESOURCES: Coordination with FWS, EPA, the NMFS, 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 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.