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: Jeff Greene
95 N County Road
Palm Beach, FL 33480
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect waters of the United States associated with onsite freshwater forested palustrine wetlands. The project site is located on Parcel #’s 00-43-43-29-00-000-3200, 00-43-43-29-00-000-3190, 00-43-43-29-00-000-3210, 00-43-43-29-00-000-3220 and 00-43-43-29-00-000-3230 at 1614 N Congress Avenue, Section 29, Township 43 South, Range 43 East, West Palm Beach, Palm Beach County, Florida.
Directions to the site are as follows: From I-95, take Exit 70 westbound at Okeechobee Blvd/ FL-704 in West Palm Beach. Travel west approximately 3.6 miles and turn left to head south down N Congress Ave. After approximately 1 mile the site will be on your left on the east side of Congress Avenue.
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES:
Basic: Residential development
Overall: Construct a residential development to provide housing in eastern Palm Beach County.
EXISTING CONDITIONS: The approximately 7.48 acre project site consists of 2 acres of freshwater forested palustrine wetlands and 5.48 acres of uplands. The project area encompasses 5 parcels and has been altered from its natural state by historic land use and maintenance. The property is currently comprised of undeveloped land with disturbed non-native plant communities. The canopy of the forested wetlands includes Brazilian pepper (Schinus terebinthifolia) and Melaleuca (Melaleuca quinquenervia) trees while the understory is dominated by wetland shrubs. The remaining uplands consist of mowed, maintained dry prairie dominated by a mixture of exotic grasses and weeds with scattered native canopy trees such as cabbage palms (Sabal palmetto), live oaks (Quercus virginiana) and Australian pines (Casuarina equisetifolia). As the hydrologic regime of the site has been historically altered to accommodate nearby residential use and regional drainage, the wetland ecosystem found on site exhibits signs of hydrologic alteration such as dominance of exotic species and soil subsidence. The surrounding areas are comprised of undeveloped lands, commercial and residential lots, an artificial stormwater canal, and Congress Avenue.
PROPOSED WORK: The applicant proposes construction of a residential development and associated infrastructure on 7.48 acres and seeks authorization to place 4,800 cubic yards of fill over 2.0 +/- acres of wetland Waters of the U.S.
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 project requires compact areas of development to accommodate large apartment buildings and associated parking and recreational areas. While every effort was made during the site selection process to select a project site with no wetland waters, there are no such available sites in the area that meet all the site selection criteria and would offer the required acres of contiguous uplands. The compact nature of the proposed site development plan does not allow for avoidance of wetland impacts. Given the location of the wetlands on site, the preservation in place of these wetlands and the provision of buffer would significantly reduce the developable acreage of the property. In addition, as the wetlands are centrally located on the property and the property is surrounded by development, their preservation in place would not be supported by any adjacent natural areas. In addition, these wetlands are considerably degraded from their natural state and thus offer reduced value and functions for fish and wildlife on site.
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION – The applicant has offered the following compensatory mitigation plan to offset unavoidable functional loss to the aquatic environment:
The applicant will offset unavoidable impacts to 2.0 acres of wetlands by purchasing credits from a mitigation bank.
The Corps is aware of historic property/properties within or in close proximity of the permit area. The Corps will initiate 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.
The Corps has determined the proposed project may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect the Eastern indigo snake (Drymarchon corais couperi). As the project site is located within the range of the Eastern indigo snake, potential effects to the species were assessed using the Programmatic Effect Determination Key provided by the USFWS South Florida Ecological Services Office (Revised July 2017). Use of this key produced a sequential determination of A-B-C-D-E-MANLAA. This determination is based on impacts to less than 25 acres of Eastern indigo snake habitat and the applicant utilizing Standard Protection Measures for the Eastern Indigo Snake (2013) during all construction activities. Therefore, the Corps has determined the project May Affect, but is Not Likely to Adversely Affect the Eastern indigo snake. By letter dated 1 August 2017, the USFWS stated that for proposed activities analyzed with the July 2017 version of the Eastern Indigo Snake Programmatic Effect Determination Key that reach a MANLAA, the USFWS concurs with this determination and no further consultation is necessary for the effects of the proposed action.
The Corps has determined that the project as proposed will have no effect on any other listed 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. Due to the project’s location in freshwater forested palustrine wetlands, the proposed action would not have an 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, FL 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, Virginia King, in writing at the Palm Beach Gardens Permits Section, 4400 PGA Boulevard, Suite 500, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida 33410; by electronic mail at Virginia.E.King@usace.army.mil or by telephone at (561) 472-3515.
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.