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: DR Horton, Inc.
Attention: Amanda Fussell
25366 Profit Drive
Daphne, Alabama 36526
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect waters of the United States associated with Bayou George. The project site is located on North Star Avenue in Section 16, Township 3 South, Range 13 West, Panama City, Bay County, Florida.
Directions to the site are as follows: From intersection of Hwy 231 and Star Avenue, head south on Star Avenue. The site is approximately 0.5 miles south of the intersection of Star Avenue and Frank Hough Road. The site is located on the east side of Star Avenue across the street from the entrance to Bay County Jail.
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES: Latitude 30.231150°
Basic: Residential development
Overall: To construct a single family residential development to provide new housing opportunities in northwest Bay County.
EXISTING CONDITIONS: The property is currently a large silviculture tract. The onsite jurisdictional wetland systems consist of 77.41acres of Basin Swamp, 9.88 acres of Cypress Domes, 106.87 acres of hydric pine flatwoods and 666.43 acres of Mesic Pine Flatwoods. The existing area surrounding the project area consists of single family residential to the north, silviculture tracts to the east and south, and the Bay County jail facility to west
PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks authorization to impact 8.64 acres of jurisdictional wetlands in order to construct a 1,900 unit single family residential subdivision including all associated amenities, infrastructure, and stormwater management facilities.
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 proposed impact areas have been previously impacted by long term silviculture activities. Site plans have reduced direct impacts by limiting impacts to those necessary to construct the project including using previously constructed silviculture roads were possible, lot siting around wetland systems, and stormwater management areas sited in uplands were implemented in an effort to minimize impacts. Isolated cypress domes have been avoided and left unimpacted in their current state.
In order to reduce impacts to the Panama City crayfish (PCC) (Procambarus econfinae) the applicant proposes to place the remaining 198.33 acres of wetland habitat into a conservation easement, placing an additional 25 ft upland buffer of 23.47 acres in a conservation unit within FWC Panama City Crayfish habitat range on the property, and a one-time mowing of 123 acres of wetland flatwood habitat prior to initial construction for habitat enhancement. An in-lieu fee for impacts to PCC habitat is also proposed.
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION – The applicant has offered the following compensatory mitigation plan to offset unavoidable functional loss to the aquatic environment:
To offset all unavoidable wetland impacts, the applicant proposes to purchase 6.12 freshwater credits from Sweetwater Mitigation Bank (SAJ-2007-02664).
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 Eastern Indigo Snake, or its designated critical habitat and may affect the Panama City Crayfish (a candidate species for listing). The Corps will request U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service concurrence with this determination pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act.
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 Panama City Permits Section, 415 Richard Jackson Boulevard, Suite 411, Panama City Beach, Florida 32407 within 30 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, Tracey L. Wheeler, in writing at the Panama City Permits Section, 415 Richard Jackson Boulevard, Suite 411, Panama City Beach, Florida 32405; by electronic mail at Tracey.L.Wheeler@usace.army.mil; or, by telephone at (850) 287-0138.
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 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.