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: City of Leesburg
Attn: DC Maudlin
550 S 14th Street
Leesburg, FL 34748
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect waters of the United States associated with Lake Harris. The project site is located at 109 E Dixie Avenue, in Section 26, Township 19 South, Range 24 East, Leesburg, Lake County, Florida.
Directions to the site are as follows: From US 441/North Blvd W, go south on W Dixie Ave approximately 1.5 miles. The entrance to Venetian Gardens is on the left.
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES: Latitude 28.805705°N
Basic: The basic project purpose is recreation and water access.
Overall: The overall project purpose is to provide public docking access for the residents of Leesburg with access to the Ski Beach Bar and Grill, Leesburg Boat Club and Venetian Gardens Park.
EXISTING CONDITIONS: The wetland system consists of the surface waters of Venetian Cove / Lake Harris. Lake Harris is a large freshwater lake, approximately 13,788 acres in size and receives inflow at its southwestern shore from the Palatlakaha River which originates from the Clermont Chain of Lakes to the south. The onsite vegetation consists of pickerelweed (Pontederia cordata), duck potato (Sagittaria latifolia), white water lily (Nymphaea alba), maidencane (Panicum hemitomen), torpedo grass (Panicum repens), and Pennywort (Hydrocotyle umbellate).
PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks authorization to remove an existing wooden dock and construct a new 44-slip docking facility for use by members of the Leesburg Boat Club and the general public. The dock is proposed as part of the overall development of the Ski Beach Bar & Grill Restaurant – Floating Dock Facility. The proposed dock would be constructed parallel to the shoreline of Venetian Cove/Lake Harris extending from Ski Beach Bar & Grill to the Leesburg Boat Club. The proposed 7,879-square-foot docking facility provides four access points from the uplands consisting of fixed piers connected to floating gangways leading to the 545-foot long floating dock with 22 finger piers.
A stormwater outfall pipe is proposed to be installed between the new Ski Beach Bar & Grill Restaurant and the existing Leesburg Boat Club resulting in approximately 0.013 acres of temporary wetland impacts.
Further, the applicant seeks after-the-fact authorization for the construction of a wooden deck extending over Lake Harris by 216-square-feet.
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:
Aquatic vegetation that falls within the access corridors / mooring areas of the docking facility will be permitted for removal by the FWC prior to the construction of the docking facility. The site plan has been designed to limit construction, as much as possible, to areas with no or minimal vegetation. The applicant will restrict dock construction, and the mooring and maneuvering of boats, to those areas that have been permitted to be maintained clear by the FWC in the Invasive Plant Management Permit to be issued for this project. No boat mooring will be allowed along the fixed piers or gangways. Rope barriers and signage, as well as nearby aquatic vegetation, will deter access. Additional signage will be placed at the ends of the mooring docks to prevent mooring in excess of the 44 slips proposed.
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION: The applicant has provided the following explanation why compensatory mitigation should not be required: The current site plan does include minor impacts to the surface waters of Lake Harris, however the proposed project will not degrade the quality of the Lake Harris shoreline or impact the current utilization of the area by local wildlife. The upland areas have been temporarily disturbed during the demolition of the existing Leesburg Community Center facility including the buildings, roads, etc. Following completion of the construction of the new facility, the areas along the shoreline will be reestablished to their current condition. Physical barriers and signage will be installed to prevent secondary impacts.
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.
Florida Scrub Jay (Aphelocoma corulescens): The Corps determined that the proposed project would have no effect on this species. The project is located within the consultation area for the scrub jay. However, the proposed project site does not contain the scrub oak habitat necessary to support the scrub jay.
Wood stork (Mycteria americana): The Corps has determined that the proposed project is not likely to adversely affect the Wood stork. Since the applicant’s proposal involves work within suitable foraging habitat for wood storks, the Corps utilized The Corps of Engineers, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), Jacksonville Ecological Services Field Office, and State of Florida Effect Determination Key for the Wood Stork in Central and North Peninsular Florida, September 2008 to evaluate the proposed project’s potential impact on wood storks. Use of this key produced the following sequence indicating that that the project is not likely to affect the wood stork: A-B-C (not likely to adversely affect). The proposed project impacts to suitable foraging habitat are not within a wood stork Core Foraging Area of a colony site, and no wood storks have been documented foraging on site. In light of these facts, the Corps determined that the proposed project is not likely to adversely affect the wood stork.
Everglades snail kite (Rostrhamus sociabilis): The Corps has determined that the proposed project would have no effect on this species. There are no documented records of the primary prey (apple snail) on the project site. Therefore, the project is expected to have no effect on the Everglade snail kite.
Sand skinks (Neoseps reynoldsi) and bluetail mole skinks (Eumeces egregius lividus): The Corps determined that the proposed project would have no effect on these species. The project is located within the consultation area for skinks, however the site does not contain the habitat necessary to support the skinks.
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 freshwater wetlands and lakes that do not support EFH or Federally managed fishery. Thus, 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 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 within 15 days from the date of this notice. For electronic mail (preferred) submit comments to Caitlin.S.Hoch@usace.army.mil. For standard mail submit comments to 10117 Princess Palm Avenue, Suite 120, Tampa, Florida 33610-8302. Please reference this permit number, SAJ- 2018-03108 (SP-CSH), on all submittals.
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, Caitlin Hoch, in writing at the Tampa Permits Section, 10117 Princess Palm Avenue, Suite 120, Tampa, Florida 33610; by electronic mail at Caitlin.S.Hoch@usace.army.mil or, by telephone at (813) 355-0789.
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: Preliminary review of this application indicates that an Environmental Impact Statement will not be required. 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. By means of this notice, we are soliciting comments on the potential effects of the project on threatened or endangered species or their habitat
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 of 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 decision, comments are used to assess impacts on endangered species, historic properties, water quality, general environmental effects, and the other public interest factors listed above. Comments are used in the preparation of an Environmental Assessment and/or an Environmental Impact Statement pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act 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.