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):
APPLICANT: Osprey Key, LLC
8114 Okeechobee Blvd. Suite B
West Palm Beach, FL 33411
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect waters of the United States associated with on-site freshwater wetlands and native upland habitat. The project site is located at the southwest corner of Jensen Beach Boulevard and Green River Parkway, Jensen Beach (Section 20, Township 37 south, Range 41 east), Martin County, Florida.
Directions to the site are as follows: Take I-95 to the SR 76/Kanner Highway exit in Stuart. Head east on Kanner Highway towards Stuart to U.S. 1. Go north on U.S. 1 to Jensen Beach Boulevard. Go east on Jensen Beach Boulevard to Green River Parkway; site is on south side of Jensen Beach Boulevard and west side of Green River Parkway
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES:
Basic: The basic project purpose is residential development.
Overall: The overall project purpose is residential development within Martin County, Florida.
PROJECT HISTORY: On August 19, 2015, the Corps’ received an application to fill 1.47 acres of wetlands on this parcel. The public notice was issued on February 2, 2016. A permit for this project was never issued.
EXISTING CONDITIONS: The site is 15.2-acres located in northeastern Martin County. The wetland on-site consists of two freshwater systems totaling 3.12-acres. There are approximately 11.1 acres of native upland habitat on-site, with +1.0 acre of disturbed area along Jensen Beach Boulevard. The land cover types found on the project include:
Pine Flatwoods: Located generally in the northern half of the project site, this native upland habitat is dominated by slash pine trees with a saw palmetto understory. There is a portion of this upland habitat located in the central and southwest portions of the site which are devoid of slash pines most likely due to previous wildfire events. Other plants found within this habitat include gallberry, fetterbush, rusty fetterbush, wiregrass, wax myrtle, and various broomsedge grasses.
Freshwater Marsh/Wet Prairie: There are two wetlands on-site. Both are marshes with wet prairie fringes. W-1 is located on the western side of the property and is 0.99 acres. W-2 is located in the southeast portion of the site and is 2.13 acres. These native wetland habitat land cover types consist of sawgrass, cattail, Carolina willow, primrose willow, and Melaleuca. Wet prairie vegetation, including various rushes and sedges, St. John's wort and yellow-eyed grass, maidencane and Melaleuca occur along the outer edges of the wetland areas.
Disturbed Land: There is a strip of upland along Jensen Beach Boulevard that has been disturbed and no longer reflects a natural vegetative community. This area typically consists of various stabilizing grasses including Bahia and Bermuda grasses, as well as mowed upland plant species found on site. This strip contains no distinctive native understory or canopy vegetation.
PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks authorization to place 6,700 cubic yards of fill within 1.34 acres (W-2) of wetlands in order to construct a residential development referred to as Osprey Preserve.
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:
Several site plans were evaluated during the design process. The initial plan proposed 2.29 acres of wetland impact to two wetlands on-site, with the selected site plan resulting in 1.34 acres of wetland impact to one wetland located adjacent to Green River Parkway.
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION – The applicant has offered the following compensatory mitigation plan to offset unavoidable functional loss to the aquatic environment:
The proposed mitigation includes the finalized purchase of 0.93 credits at Bluefield Ranch Mitigation Bank (BRMB). The functional loss of the combined 1.34 acres of wetland impacts to W-2, including functional loss due to the fragmentation of the preserved portions of W-2 generate an overall Functional Loss of 0.93 units. In addition, the preservation and enhancement of the on-site wetlands will consist of the eradication of exotic vegetation from the wetlands and upland preserves. Stormwater outfall control structures will also be installed to maintain the hydrology of the wetlands. Perpetual maintenance obligations and conservation easements for the preserved wetlands and uplands will also ensure that the vegetation composition of the wetland remains dominated by desirable wetland and wetland transitional vegetation and that invasive exotic vegetation is prevented from re-encroaching the preserved portions of the wetlands.
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.
The Corps has determined the proposed project may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect the Eastern indigo snake (Drymarchon couperi) and wood stork (Mycteria americana). The Corps has received programmatic concurrence through the use of the species keys’ from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service with this determination pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act and is described below:
Wood stork (Mycteria americana): The action area is located within 3.92 miles of one wood stork nesting colony according to the google earth RAR layers. The site includes temporary periods of ponding which would provide wood stork foraging habitat. Using the key 2010 Wood Stork Key, the following pathway results in A, B, C, E; not likely to adversely affect.
Eastern indigo snake (Drymarchon couperi): Suitable gopher tortoise habitat and other snake refugia are present within and adjacent to the project areas. The Corps determined that the proposed project activities are not likely to adversely affect the Eastern indigo Snake. Use of The Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife’s Indigo Snake Key dated August 1, 2017 resulted in a path of A-B-C-D-E; not likely to adversely affect. A determination of “not likely to adversely affect” was made for the Indigo snake provided the Standard Permit authorization includes the special conditions for the Eastern Indigo Snake Protection Measures during construction and the permit will be conditioned such that all gopher tortoise burrows, active or inactive, shall be evacuated via methods pursuant to FWC excavation guidance prior to site manipulation in the vicinity of the burrows. Additionally, holes, cavities, and snake refugia other than gopher tortoise burrows shall be inspected each morning before planned site manipulation of a particular area with work stopping if an indigo snake is discovered.
Florida scrub jay (Aphelocoma coerulescens): The project is located within the species consultation area. Suitable habitats for the scrub-jay are not only the more “classic” xeric oak scrub, scrubby pine flatwoods, scrubby coastal strand, and sand pine scrub, but also include: improved, unimproved, and woodland pastures, citrus groves, rangeland, pine flatwoods, longleaf pine xeric oak, sand pine, sand pine plantations, forest regeneration areas, sand other than beaches, disturbed rural land in transition without positive indicators of intended activity, and disturbed burned areas. The project is not located in any of these types of habitats, therefore the Corps has determined that the project will have no effect on the species.
Everglade snail kite (Rostrhamus sociabilis plumbeus): The project is located within the species consultation area. The species regularly occur in lake shallows along the shores and islands of many major lakes, including Lakes Okeechobee, Kissimmee, Tohopekaliga (Toho) and East Toho. They also regularly occur in the expansive marshes of southern Florida such as Water Conservation Areas 1, 2, and 3, Everglades National Park, the upper St. John’s River marshes, and Grassy Waters Preserve. Kite foraging habitat consists of relatively shallow wetland vegetation, either within extensive marsh systems, or in lake littoral zones. The project is not located in any of these types of habitats, therefore the Corps has determined that the project will have no effect on the species.
Audubon's Crested Caracara (Caracara plancus audubonii): The project is located within the species consultation area. The project does not include the species nesting or foraging habitat which consists of large expanses of pastures, grasslands, or prairies dotted with numerous shallow ponds and sloughs and single or small clumps of live oaks, cabbage palms, and cypress, therefore the Corps has determined that the project will have no effect on the species.
Red-cockaded woodpecker (Leuconotopicus borealis): The project is located within the species consultation area. Nesting habitat includes Pine or pine dominated pine/hardwood stands, with old-growth pines and low or sparse understory. Cavities are generally constructed/excavated from mature pine trees, more than 60 years old. Suitable habitats include: Upland coniferous forest, pine flatwoods, longleaf pine-Xeric Oak, and Pine-Mesic Oak. While the project site includes pine flatwoods, they include a dense understory, dominated by saw palmetto and also including gallberry, fetterbush, rusty fetterbush, and, wax myrtle, which is not preferred nesting habitat for the woodpecker, therefore the Corps has determined that the project will have no effect on the 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. No EFH is located within or areas affected by the project. Our initial determination is that the proposed action would not have a substantial adverse impact on EFH or Federally managed fisheries in the South Atlantic Region. 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 Palm Beach Gardens Permits Section, 4400 PGA Boulevard, Suite 500, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida 33410 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, Christian Karvounis, in writing at the Palm Beach Gardens Permits Section, 4400 PGA Boulevard, Suite 500, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida 33410; by electronic mail at Christian.G.Karvounis@usace.army.mil; or, by telephone at (561) 472-3508.
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.