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: Weyerhaeuser NR Company
13005 SW 1St Road, Suite 241
Newberry, Florida 32669
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect waters of the United States associated with wetlands and tributaries of Lochloosa Creek and West Hawthorne Branch. The project site is located west of US Highway 301, north of State Road 20, east of SE 171st Street, and south of SE 24th Avenue; in Section 15, 16, 20, 21, 22, 27, 28, and 29, Township 10 South, Range 22 East; Hawthorne, Alachua County, Florida.
Directions to the site are as follows: From the intersection of US Highway 301and State Road 20 in Hawthorne, travel north on US 301 approximately 1.4 miles and the project area will be on the left (west side of US 301).
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES: Latitude 29.609745°
Basic: Multi-use (Commercial/Industrial and Residential)
Overall: Construct a multi-use economic center within close proximity to major roads and rail for freight transport and be located in eastern Alachua County.
EXISTING CONDITIONS: The project site comprises 1,067.5 acres of which 762.1 acres are upland communities, 302 acres are wetlands and 3.4 acres are other waters. Upland communities within the property are dominated by Coniferous Plantations (441), which represent approximately 81% (approximately 615.2 acres) of the total upland acreage on the property. Other upland communities on the property include improved pasture, herbaceous upland non-forested, pine flatwoods, upland hardwood forests, live oak, hardwood coniferous mixed, mixed hardwoods, utilities, and roads and highways. On-site wetland communities are dominated by Wetland Forested Mixed (630) (approximately 110.2 acres) and Wet Coniferous Plantations (W441) (approximately 109.3 acres). Other wetland communities on the property include cypress, timbered wetlands classified as scrub-shrub wetlands, mixed hardwood wetlands, coniferous forest wetlands, hydric pine flatwoods, freshwater marshes, and wet prairies).
PROJECT HISTORY: The proposed project was originally placed on public notice May 11, 2017. The current notice is to acknowledge the applicants request for a longer permit duration. (See proposed work below.) No substantial changes have been made to the project, however the amount of compensatory mitigation has increased. Comments already received will still be considered.
PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks authorization to construct an industrial mixed-use economic hub to include multi-family residential units that will impact 66.8 acres of jurisdictional wetlands and 3.2 acres of jurisdictional surface waters, as well as 12.8 acres of non-jurisdictional wetlands. The property development plan also proposes to preserve in perpetuity 243.1 acres of wetlands and 106 acres of uplands. The applicant is seeking a 25-year authorization to accommodate the proposed development.
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 Property has been designed to be a compact, mixed-use employment center based upon principles of sustainability and smart growth. Design of the development plan is oriented to the upland portions of the property, which consist primarily of upland coniferous plantation and improved pasture representing 92.9% of the total upland acreage. The majority of the property has been under intensive silvicultural operations for the last 50+ years and the lands to be developed are oriented towards these actively managed silvicultural areas. Currently, the lands to be developed are primarily actively-managed silvicultural areas comprised primarily of planted slash pine and loblolly pine. Impacts to “Waters of the United States” could not be totally avoided, but significant effort has been taken through the site selection and design process to minimize wetland impacts on the property to the greatest extent practicable.
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION – The applicant has offered the following compensatory mitigation plan to offset unavoidable functional loss to the aquatic environment: The comprehensive mitigation plan (on-site and off-site) encompasses approximately 791.7 acres of wetlands and uplands placed under conservation easements. Lands proposed to be protected include approximately 604.3 acres of wetlands and approximately 187.4 acres of uplands. In addition, 0.2 acre of surface waters will be included in the conservation easements; however, these drainage ditches were not directly utilized to generate mitigation as they will be filled or plugged to encourage hydrologic enhancement within the associated drained wetland. Specifically, the mitigation plan encompasses approximately 137.4 acres of wetland enhancement, 11.9 acres of wetland enhancement planting, 20.8 acres of wetland establishment, 434.2 acres of wetland preservation, 163.6 acres of upland restoration, 4.1 acres of upland restoration planting, and 19.7 acres of upland preservation.
CULTURAL RESOURCES: The Corps is aware of historic property/properties within or in close proximity of the permit area. The Corps has completed 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. This determination was made using the 2013 Effect Determination Key for the Eastern Indigo Snake. Pursuant to the key, no further consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is necessary.
The Corps has determined the proposed project may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect the Wood Stork. This determination was made using the 2008 Wood Stork Key for Central and North Peninsular Florida. Pursuant to the key, no further consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is necessary.
The Corps has determined the proposal would have no effect on the Florida Scrub Jay or Red Cockaded Woodpecker as no suitable habitat exists for these species.
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 initial determination is that the proposed action would not have a substantial adverse impact on EFH or Federally managed fisheries in the Gulf of Mexico. 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 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 or to Candice.M.Wheelahan@usace.army.mil 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, Candice Wheelahan, in writing at the Tampa Permits Section, 10117 Princess Palm Avenue, Suite 120, Tampa, Florida 33610; by electronic mail at Candice.M.Wheelahan@usace.army.mil; by facsimile transmission at (813)769-7061; or, by telephone at (813)769-7069.
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.