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: Horizon Baptist Church Inc.
C/o Mary Lindgren
12965 Orange Blvd.
West Palm Beach, FL 33412
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect waters of the United States (WOTUS) associated with the discharge of fill material. The project is located within three parcels (PCN: 00414227000008000 and 00414227000008190) that total 6.2 acres that contain approximately 1.4 acres of freshwater wetlands at 12965 Orange Blvd in West Palm Beach (Section 27, Township 42 South, Range 41 East), Palm Beach County, Florida.
Directions to the site are as follows: From I-95, exit westbound onto Northlake Blvd and travel 8.5 miles, turn left onto 125 th Avenue N/Coconut Blvd and travel 2.2 miles, turn right onto Orange Blvd and travel 0.5 miles and the project is on the right hand side of road.
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES:
Basic: The basic project purpose is to expand an existing church and associated infrastructure.
Overall: The overall project purpose is to expand an existing church and associated infrastructure within western West Palm Beach Florida.
PROJECT HISTORY: The Corps issued a Department of Army (DA) permit on May 14, 2007, that authorized the filling of 1.3 acres of freshwater wetlands to construct a church (PCN: 00414227000008200) as well as an access drive, parking lot and dry retention area. The authorized work has been completed.
EXISTING CONDITIONS: The subject site is approximately 6.2 acres comprised of a total of three parcels. The developed parcel (PCN: 00414227000008200) is approximately 2.64 acres and contains an existing church building and associated infrastructure. The other two undeveloped parcels (PCN: 00414227000008000 and 00414227000008190) are approximately 3.56 acres and contain two wetlands (1.0 acre and 0.4 acres). The undeveloped areas have been altered from a natural state by historic use and management of the property resulting in disturbances and dominance of non-native vegetation. The wetland areas are dominated by exotic melaleuca and earleaf acacia with some scattered native slash pine, cocoplum, and wax myrtle. Ground cover consists of a combination of exotic wedelia, and shrubby false buttonwood as well as native maidencane, and road grass. As the hydrologic regime of the area has been historically altered to accommodate nearby agricultural activities, residential use, and regional drainage, the wetland system found on site exhibit signs of hydr4ologic alternation. The surrounding areas are comprised of rural residential homes, a drainage canal and roads. No listed species of plants or wildlife were observed within the wetland, or anywhere else on the site.
PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks authorization to place 2,500 cubic yards of fill material within approximately 1.0 acre of freshwater wetlands and excavate 0.4 acres of freshwater wetlands for the expansion of an existing church and associated infrastructure.
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 building improvements and associated parking and infrastructure areas. Given the location of the wetlands, the preservation in place of these wetlands and the provision of buffer would significantly reduce the developable acreage of the property. The compact nature of the proposed site development plan does not allow for avoidance of impacts to wetlands. In addition, as the wetlands are centrally located on the property, their preservation in place would not be supported by any adjacent natural areas and long-term sustainability would not be likely. Furthermore, these wetlands are considerably degraded from their natural state and thus offer reduced value and functions for fish and wildlife.
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION – The applicant has offered the following compensatory mitigation plan to offset unavoidable functional loss to the aquatic environment: The applicant has stated that credits will be purchased from a federally approved mitigation bank to offset unavoidable impacts to jurisdictional wetlands.
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: The Corps has determined the proposed project may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect the Audubon’s Crested Caracara (Caracara cheriway audubonii), Everglades Snail Kite (Rostrhamus sociabilis), Red Cockaded Woodpecker (Picoides borealis), Woodstork (Mycteria americana), Eastern Indigo snake (Drymarcon corais couperi), and the Florida Scrub Jay (Aphelocoma coerulescens). The Corps will request U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service concurrence with this determination pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act by separate letter.
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 approximately 1.4 acres of herbaceous wetlands. Our initial determination is that the proposed action would not have a substantial adverse impact on EFH or Federally managed fisheries in the South Atlantic Division because none are present. 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, STE 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, Ms. Linda C. Knoeck, in writing at the Palm Beach Gardens Permits Section, 4400 PGA Boulevard, STE 500, Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33410; by electronic mail at Linda.C.Knoeck@usace.army.mil; or, by telephone at 561-472-3531
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.