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: D.R. Horton, Inc.
Attn: Mr. Anthony Sharp
4220 Race Track Road
Saint Johns, Florida 32259
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect waters of the United States associated with Peter’s Creek, a tributary of Black Creek. The project site is located near 3473 County Road, in Section 32, Township 5 South, Range 26 East, Green Cove Springs, Clay County, Florida.
Directions to the site are as follows: From Interstate-95 take Exit 337 and head west on Interstate-295 towards the town of Orange Park, Florida. Take Exit 10 and head south towards Green Cove Springs, Florida. Proceed until the intersection of County Road 315 and turn right. Proceed until the intersection of Shedd Road and the project site is on the left side of the road.
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES: Latitude 30.016767°
Basic: The basic project purpose is residential development.
Overall: The overall project purpose is single-family residential development north of State Road 16 and east of County Road 218 in Clay County, Florida.
EXISTING CONDITIONS: The existing vegetative communities and land uses have been characterized pursuant to the Florida Department of Transportation publication Florida Land Use, Forms and Classification System (FLUCFCS).
A. Uplands 121.00 acres
Improved Pasture (FLUCFCS 211) 66.04 acres
Until the late 1990’s almost all of the uplands onsite were being managed as improved cow pasture. Since that time portions of the pasture were converted to other uses. Currently just over one half of all of the uplands comprise improved pasture, although much of it has been allowed to go fallow. The dominant vegetation in the pasture had included such forage species as bahia grass (Paspalum notatum). The pastures now include many early successional weed species such as Vasey grass (Paspalum urvillei), broomsedge (Andropogon sp.), sand blackberry (Rubus cuneifolius), goldenrod (Solidago spp.), and dog fennel (Eupatorium sp.).
Pine Plantation (FLUCFCS 441) 39.90 acres
Most of the uplands that are not pasture have been converted to pine plantation. The vegetation in these areas comprises rows of even-aged planted slash pine (Pinus elliottii). The understory and ground cover vegetation includes such species as blackberry, muscadine grape (Vitis rotundifolia), greenbriar (Smilax sp.), beauty berry (Callicarpa americana), and Spanish needles (Bidens pilosa).
Other Open Lands (FLUCFCS 260) 9.77 acres
Two areas of the property are designated as other open land that had previously been used for various agricultural related uses. The northern of these two areas had originally contained two buildings used in the former commercial dairy operation. The larger of the two buildings had been demolished by 1999. The other building had been demolished by 2004. The area around these building had been enclosed with a fence, and this area has been allowed to become overgrown with weedy vegetation and not used as pasture for decades. The southern of these two areas had been used for housing for dairy farm workers. A dirt road extended into this area from Shedd Road and was called Farmer’s Lane. Between 1999 and 2004 all of the single family residences had been removed, and the area was allowed to naturally vegetate. This area still has remnants of the original road and building pads.
Dirt Road (FLUCFCS 814) 2.84 acres
A section of dirt road extends through the middle of the site. This road is called Shedd Road and has used by various residents in this area for many decades.
Other Open Land (FLUCFCS 190) 1.89 acres
There are two relatively small areas south of Shedd Road characterized as other open land that are, at least in part, comprised of spoil generated from construction of the adjacent livestock watering pond and drainage ditch. These fill areas are vegetated mostly with various early successional and weedy species such as camphor (Cinnamomum camphora), muscadine grape, Chinese tallow (Triadica sebifera) and blackberry.
Hardwood-Conifer Mixed (FLUCFCS 434) 0.56 acre
The northeastern edge of the improved pasture is bordered by relatively small areas of forested uplands. The canopy in these uplands comprises a mixture of slash pine and hardwoods such as loblolly bay (Gordonia lasianthus). The understory and ground cover vegetation includes such species as muscadine grape, devil’s walking stick (Aralia spinosa) and bracken fern (Pteridium aquilinum).
B. Wetlands and Other Surface Waters 43.29 acres
Inland Ponds and Sloughs (FLUCFCS 616) 30.58 acres
The northeast corner of the property contains part of the headwaters of an unnamed tributary of Peters Creek. The canopy in the deeper areas includes such species as blackgum (Nyssa sylvatica var. biflora), sweet bay (Magnolia virginiana) and pond cypress (Taxodium ascendens). The canopy in the upper edges also includes loblolly bay, red maple (Acer rubrum), and water oak (Quercus nigra). Understory and ground cover vegetation include such species as waxmyrtle (Morella cerifera), fetterbush (Lyonia lucida), bamboo vine (Smilax laurifolia), cinnamon fern (Osmunda cinnamomea), Virginia chain fern (Woodwardia virginica), netted chain fern (Woodwardia areolata), and royal fern (Osmunda regalis).
Wet Pine Plantation (FLUCFCS 441W) 5.50 acres
Originally some of the areas of improved pasture had been wetland pasture. Portions of wet pasture were subsequently converted to pine plantation. The canopy in these areas comprises rows of planted slash pine along with scattered red maple. The understory and ground cover vegetation include such species as waxmyrtle, cinnamon fern, elderberry (Sambucus nigra), and various wet grasses.
Wetland Forested Mixed (FLUCFCS 630) 2.16 acres
There are two areas south of Shedd Road that may be characterized as wetland forested mixed. These areas are more degraded ecologically as compared to the larger headwater wetland north of Shedd Road. The canopy in these two areas includes such species as sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua), water oak, red maple, and Chinese tallow. The hydrology has been altered from the adjacent livestock watering pond and ditches.
Willow and Elderberry (FLUCFCS 618) 2.02 acres
So me of the improved pasture that had been wet pasture south of Shedd Road was allowed to go fallow and is now vegetated mostly with a mixture of elderberry, coastal plain willow (Salix caroliniana), Chinese tallow, and salt bush (Baccharis halimifolia).
Wet Pasture (FLUCFCS 640) 0.70 acre
There are a number of relatively small areas of wet pasture north of Shedd Road. The vegetation in these areas includes such species as Elliot’s aster (Symphyotrichum elliottii), smartweed (Polygonum sp.), torpedo grass (Panicum repens), primrose willow (Ludwigia spp.), dollar weed (Hydrocotyle sp.), and spike rush (Eleocharis spp.).
Ditches (FLUCFCS 510) 1.40 acres
The property contains 5 man-made ditches that had been created when the property was managed as dairy pasture. The vegetation growing along these ditches includes such species as waxmyrtle and coastal plain willow.
Livestock Watering Pond (FLUCFCS 524) 0.93 acre
The property south of Shedd Road contains a man-made livestock watering pond. This pond has not been maintained for a number of years. During wetter periods, it holds shallow standing water that is often covered with duckweed (Lemna sp.). During drier periods, it dries out and is vegetated with a dense growth of various grasses and cattail (Typha sp.).
PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks authorization to discharge fill material into 1.27 acres of palustrine-forested wetlands and 1.01 acre of ditches to facilitate a single-family residential development with associated stormwater management system.
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:
“Project was designed to avoid impacts to higher quality forested wetlands as much as possible.”
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION – The applicant has offered the following compensatory mitigation plan to offset unavoidable functional loss to the aquatic environment:
“The individual impact areas (wetlands and wetland-cut ditches) were evaluated pursuant to the Wetland Rapid Assessment Methodology (WRAP). Based on WRAP the project will result in the loss of 0.67 WRAP units. As mitigation for the project impacts, the permit applicant will purchase 0.67 WRAP credits from Sundew Mitigation Bank.”
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 proposal would have no effect on any listed threatened or endangered species or designated critical habitat.
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 St. Johns 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 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 Jacksonville Permits Section, Post Office 4970, Jacksonville, Florida 32232-0019 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, Brad Carey, in writing at the Jacksonville Permits Section, Post Office Box 4970, Jacksonville, Florida 32232-0019; by electronic mail at firstname.lastname@example.org; or, by telephone at (904) 232-2405.
[OPTIONAL FOR ATF APPLICATIONS] 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: 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.