US Army Corps of Engineers
Jacksonville District

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SAJ-2019-03371 (SP-MRE)

Published Sept. 18, 2019
Expiration date: 10/9/2019

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:  GATE Petroleum Company
                       Post Office Box 2627
                       Jacksonville, Florida 32241

WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect waters of the United States (wetlands) associated with Open Creek, which is a tidal tributary of Pablo Creek. The project site is contiguous to the east side of San Pablo Parkway, generally opposite Crosswater Boulevard, in Section 1, Township 3 South, Range 28 East, Jacksonville, Duval County, Florida.

APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES:  Latitude 30.271193°
                                                                          Longitude -81.440468°

PROJECT PURPOSE:

Basic: The basic project purpose is commercial development.

Overall: The overall project purpose is the establishment of a fuel-convenience facility serving the overall Isle of Palms and Mayo Clinic region of the City of Jacksonville.

EXISTING CONDITIONS:

General: The project site encompasses approximately 2.1 acres of land on the east side of San Pablo Parkway, approximately 1 mile north of John Turner Butler Boulevard. The U.S. Geological Survey map (Jacksonville Beach, FL quadrangle) for this area indicates that the site has a general elevation within the uplands of approximately +10 feet NGVD. The on-site wetlands receive runoff from surrounding properties to the north and east and drain south into Open Creek.

Soils: The project site encompasses two soil types identified in the Soil Survey of the City of Jacksonville, Duval County, Florida.

a. Leon fine sand, 0 to 2 percent slopes (map unit 32): This soil type is found in the flatwoods. Generally, the high water table is at a depth of 6 to 18 inches from January through October. The surface layer is very dark gray fine sand about five inches thick. The underlying layers consist of dark gray fine sand extending from five to eight inches, and gray fine sand extending from 8 to 18 inches.

b. Lynn Haven fine sand, 0 to 2 percent slopes (map unit 35): This soil type is a nearly level to gently sloping, very poorly drained, sandy soil found on flats and seepage slopes. Generally, the high-water table is at or near the surface from January through October. The surface layer is normally black fine sand about seven inches thick. The underlying layer consists of very dark gray fine sand extending from 7 to 13 inches.

Vegetative Communities: The project site encompasses two vegetative communities characterized by the Florida Land Use, Cover, and Forms Classification System (FLUCFCS).

a. Hardwood-Conifer Mixed (FLUCFCS code 434): The canopy in this upland community includes a mix of hardwoods and pines including such species as slash pine (Pinus elliottii), laurel oak (Quercus hemisphaerica), red maple (Acer rubrum), sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua), water oak (Quercus nigra), and live oak (Quercus virginiana). Understory and groundcover species include wax myrtle (Myrica cerifera), saw palmetto (Serenoa repens), bitter gallberry (Ilex glabra), and bracken fern (Pteridium aquilinum).

b. Wetland Forested Mixed (FLUCFCS code 630): The canopy within this wetland community includes such species as red maple, water oak, loblolly bay (Gordonia lasianthus), sweetbay (Magnolia virginiana), and blackgum (Nyssa sylvatica var. biflora). The understory and groundcover comprise such species as fetterbush (Lyonia lucida) and netted chainfern (Woodwardia areolata).

PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks authorization to discharge clean fill material over a total of 0.50 acre of palustrine forested wetlands contiguous to Open Creek. The work proposed would facilitate the establishment of a GATE fuel-convenience facility.

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:

Numerous design elements and considerations were utilized to avoid and minimize wetland impacts to the greatest extent practicable. Careful consideration was given to the sizing and location of the facility components to minimize wetland impacts, while maintaining necessary requirements to meet project objectives. Impacts were minimized by limiting those impacts to the lower quality fringe and linear extension of the larger contiguous systems and utilizing retaining wall where possible to avoid encroachment into the floodplain. Due to the irregular nature of the wetland limits and the square footage required in order to construct the project, wetland impacts were unavoidable. The developer went through multiple design revisions in an effort to reduce impacts, from removing the desired prototypical car wash to reducing the ideal numbers of fueling positions and parking spaces to the minimum allowable to still achieve an economically feasible project. The proposed plans are the result of this effort and wetland impacts have been reduced from 1.44 acre to 0.50 acre. The site plan has been shifted as far north as possible so as to avoid encroachment into the floodplain and a section of retaining wall is proposed at the south end of Impact 2 specifically to avoid the floodplain. Additional retaining wall in this area is not feasible, because to the west, vehicles turning into the site need appropriate clear zone to protect from a drop off hazard, and to the east the underground fuel tanks will prevent the use of retaining wall. The footprint of the proposed facility is the minimum necessary to accommodate the specific needs of the project

COMPENSATORY MITIGATION – The applicant has offered the following compensatory mitigation plan to offset unavoidable functional loss to the aquatic environment:

The applicant’s ecological agent compiled a Wetland Rapid Assessment Procedure (WRAP) and a Uniform Mitigation Assessment Method (UMAM) for the project. These functional assessment tools quantify and qualify the loss of wetland functions and services that would be lost through the implementation of the work proposed. In consideration of the WRAP/UMAM, the applicant proposes the purchase of mitigation bank credits from a federally authorized mitigation bank with a service area encompassing the project site. The applicant has not yet identified the specific bank that would be used; and, is comparing credit costs from various mitigation banks.

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. 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:

Red Cockaded Woodpecker (Picoides borealis): The project site is within the consultation area identified by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the Corps for this species. Therefore, Red Cockaded Woodpecker may utilize the project site. Habitat for Red Cockaded Woodpecker typically incorporates mature pine woodlands (not wetlands); and, optimal habitat is characterized as a broad savanna with a scattered overstory of large pines and a dense groundcover containing a diversity of grass and shrub species. Nesting and roosting occur in cavity trees that are almost exclusively old, living, flat-topped pine trees. The project site does not encompass typical or optimum habitat; or, trees capable of supporting cavities. Further, as significant forested habitat is located near the project site, it is likely that this species would only opportunistically forage at the site, which the development of the site would not preclude. Therefore, the Corps concludes that the project would have no effect on this species.

Wood Stork (Mycteria americana): The project site is within the Core Foraging Area of the Cedar Point Road and the Dee Dot Ranch Wood Stork colonies. Therefore, this species may utilize (forage at) the site. The project, however, would not affect suitable foraging habitat as the onsite wetlands have a dense canopy cover. In consideration of this information, the Corps utilized The Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Jacksonville Ecological Services Field Office and State of Florida Effect Determination Key for the Wood Stork in Central and North Peninsular Florida, September 2008, to determine potential effects upon this species. Use of this key resulted in the sequence A-B-no effect. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) previously indicated that they concur with determinations of no effect based on the key for Wood Storks; and, that no additional consultation is necessary.

The Corps executed a Resources At Risk (RAR) report. The RAR did not indicate that the site is utilized by, or contains habitat critical to, any other federally listed threatened or endangered species. The Corps also reviewed geospatial data and other available information. The Corps has not received or discovered any information that the project site is utilized by, or contains habitat critical to, any other federally listed threatened or endangered 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. The proposal would not affect marine or estuarine habitat nor EFH. Although the project site is contiguous to a tidal system, the Corps concludes that erosion control measures and best management practices would preclude direct effects to tidal waters of Open Creek. In consideration of the specific site conditions and the ability to manage surface run-off, the Corps’ initial determination is that the proposed action would not have an adverse impact on EFH or federally managed fisheries in Pablo Creek. 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 Corps previously verified the extent of wetlands under Department of the Army file SAJ-2012-01575.

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 Box 4970, Jacksonville, Florida 32232 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, Mark R. Evans, in writing at the Jacksonville Permits Section, Post Office Box 4970, Jacksonville, Florida 32232; by electronic mail at mark.r.evans@usace.army.mil; by facsimile transmission at (904)232-1940; or, by telephone at (904)232-2028.

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.