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):
City of Tarpon Springs
c/o Tom Funcheon
324 East Pine Street
Tarpon Springs, FL 34689
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect waters of the United States associated with Whitcomb Bayou. The project site is located at the terminus of existing Meres Blvd at South Safford Ave, and extends east to South Disston Ave, in Section 13, Township 27 South, Range 15 East, in Tarpon Springs, Pinellas County, Florida.
Directions to the site are as follows: From the intersection of U.S. Hwy Alt. 19 and Klosterman Road, proceed north one mile on U.S. Highway Alt. 19 (Pinellas Ave). Turn right (east) onto Meres Blvd and proceed to the terminus of Meres Blvd.
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES:
Overall: To provide additional east-west connection between U.S. Highway 19 and U.S. Highway Alt 19 for improved hurricane evacuation, connectivity, and bicycle and pedestrian access between residential areas and local facilities within an area bounded by S.R. 582/East Tarpon Ave to the north; East Klosterman Road to the south; U.S. Highway Alt 19 to the west; and U.S. Highway 19 to the east; in the City of Tarpon Springs, Pinellas County, Florida.
EXISTING CONDITIONS: The wetland system consists of a freshwater system. The onsite vegetation in the proposed impact area consists of predominantly Brazilian pepper (Schinus terebinthifolius) with scattered Carolina willow (Salix caroliniana) and red maple (Acer rubrum). The existing area surrounding the project area consists of a former city landfill along the south side; and a construction company storage facility, disturbed wetlands, a Pinellas County Schools bus compound and an employee parking lot, and a church along the north side of the project right-of-way.
PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks authorization to permanently fill 1.93 acres of wetlands in order to construct an approximately 0.4 mile extension of Meres Boulevard from its existing paved terminus at South Safford Avenue to South Disston Avenue. The project includes a two lane undivided road and associated stormwater management facilities.
RELEVANT PROJECT HISTORY: The Corps previously permitted this project on May 23, 2011. A limited amount of site disturbance occurred during the construction timeframe; however, the permitted roadway was not constructed before permit expiration.
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 footprint of the roadway has been reduced from four lanes to two lanes to reduce wetland impacts. Additionally, the roadway side slopes have been reduced as much as possible to decrease the roadway footprint.”
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION – The applicant has offered the following compensatory mitigation plan to offset unavoidable functional loss to the aquatic environment: The applicant intends to purchase federal mitigation credits from the Old Florida Mitigation Bank to compensate for direct and secondary wetland 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. The State Historic Preservation Office provided a letter dated December 30, 2010, stating that no significant archaeological or historical resources are recorded within the project areas, and because of the location and/or nature of the projects, it is unlikely that any such sites will be affected. 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.
ENDANGERED SPECIES: The Corps has determined the proposal may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect the federally threatened wood stork (Mycteria americana). Potential impacts to the wood stork were evaluated using the Wood Stork Effect Determination Key dated September, 2008 (Key). The Corps has programmatic concurrence with the sequential determination of A > B > C > D > E > “not likely to adversely affect” pursuant to the Key.
The Corps has determined the proposal may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect the federally threatened eastern indigo snake (Drymarchon corais couperi). Potential impacts to the eastern indigo snake were evaluated using the Eastern Indigo Snake Programmatic Effect Determination Key (Key) dated January 25, 2010, and updated August 13, 2013. The Corps has programmatic concurrence with the sequential determination of A > B > C > “not likely to adversely affect” pursuant to the Key.
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 inland freshwater wetlands. Our initial determination is that the proposed action would not have a substantial adverse impact on EFH or federally managed fisheries. 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: The Southwest Florida Water Management District issued Environmental Resource Permit No. 43034822.002 on March 17, 2016.
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, 10117 Princess Palm Avenue, Suite 120, Tampa, FL 33610 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, Jessica Cordwell, in writing at the Tampa Permits Section, 10117 Princess Palm Avenue, Suite 120 Tampa, Florida 33610, by telephone at (813)769-7067, by fax at (813)769-7061, or by electronic mail at Jessica.L.Cordwell@usace.army.mil.
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, aesthetics, 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.
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.