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:
Taylor Morrison of Florida, Inc.
551 N. Cattleman Road, Suite 200
Sarasota, Florida 34232
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect waters of the United States associated with wetlands and man-made surface waters that drain into South Creek within the Southern Coastal Watershed. The project site is located south of Clark Road (State Road 72) and west of Cow Pen Slough, in Section 28, Township 37 South, Range 19 East, in Sarasota County, Florida.
Directions to the site are as follows: From I-75, take Exit 205 (Clark Road), travel east approximately 5 miles. The entrance to Skye Ranch is on the south side of S.R. 72 (Clark Road). The site is approximately 1.4 miles south southwest of the intersection of Lorraine Road (f.k.a. Bee Ridge Road Extension) and S.R.72
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES:
Overall: Construct a residential neighborhood including associated access roads, infrastructure, and stormwater management facilities in Sarasota County.
EXISTING CONDITIONS: The site totals 91.63 acres, of which 53.07 acres are characterized as uplands. Nearly all (97%) of the upland habitats are classified as improved pastures that have been used for cattle grazing, with a minor component (1.65 acres) of pine flatwood habitat. The site contains a total of five (5) USACE jurisdictional freshwater marsh wetlands (37.86 acres), six (6) USACE jurisdictional surface water ditches (0.31 acres), and two (2) cattle ponds (0.47 acres). The freshwater marshes are dispersed throughout the subject property are dominated by nuisance/exotic species ranging from 50-80% cover and have been subjected to heavy cattle grazing and trampling. These marsh systems are surrounded by pastures and are interconnected through a series of agricultural ditches and swales which has also altered hydrology.
PROJECT HISTORY: The proposed project is an addition to a previously permitted development, LT Ranch (now known as Skye Ranch), that was permitted by the Corps in January 2019. The previous permit authorized construction of a mixed-use development encompassing 962 acres adjacent to Clark Road and Cow Pen Slough. The permitted impacts included a total of 9.24 acres of wetland impacts and 12.11 acres of waters impacts. The permit is active until 18 January 2024.
PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks authorization to construct a residential development and supporting infrastructure that would result in impacts to 15.09 acres of Waters of the U.S. The proposed project would result in permanent impacts to 14.87 acres of wetlands and result in 0.31 acres of impacts to agricultural ditches. This project would be an expansion of the previously permitted development.
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: “During the site design process, alternatives were explored to reduce and eliminate wetland impacts. Prioritization of impacts to low quality wetland and preservation of the high-quality systems (both uplands and wetlands) were the focus of the site design. These alternatives included, but were not limited to, minor right-of-way realignments to avoid wetlands, modification of typical cross sections of the roadway to narrow the right-of-way width, and consideration of neighborhood design alternatives that would reduce or minimize the impact footprints.
Each of the proposed wetland impacts results from design constraints dictated by the points of origin for the roadway extensions, the design characteristics of the roadways, such as design speed and associated turning radii, placement of residential neighborhoods, and attempts to avoid or minimize wetland impacts and other native habitats to the greatest extent practicable while preserving significant areas of environmental Open Space. The proposed roadway alignments and residential neighborhoods are the best compromise for providing access within the project site while minimizing impacts to environmental features and maintaining the integrity of high-quality wetlands and upland habitats (i.e., mesic hammock) associated with the greenways located further east and other significant environmental features including bald eagle nests.”
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION – The applicant has offered the following compensatory mitigation plan to offset unavoidable functional loss to the aquatic environment: “A compensatory mitigation plan for the LT Ranch 962.1-acre site was approved by the USACE that addresses wetland impacts and the mitigation plan associated each neighborhood. This plan will follow and expand on the previous mitigation plan that was previously approved. Specific to N-4 South, this plan calls for the protection and enhancement of 23.2 acres of wetlands (i.e. Wetlands 38, 40, and 41), 9.41 acres of wetland enhancement in the Greenway Areas (i.e. Wetlands 29, 30, 30A, 31, 47, and 49), and the creation of 4.31 acres of wetlands in the Greenway Areas (i.e. Creation Area B). The proposed mitigation plan will provide 7.91 units of functional lift to offset the 7.24 units of functional loss pursuant to UMAM.”
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 made a preliminary determination that the proposed project may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect the Audubon’s Crested Caracara, the Wood Stork, and the Eastern Indigo Snake. The Corps will request U.S. Fish and Wildlife concurrence with this determination pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act.
The Corps has made a preliminary determination that the proposal would have no effect on the Florida Grasshopper Sparrow, the Florida Scrub-Jay, and the Florida Bonneted Bat.
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. Our initial determination is that the proposed action would not have a substantial adverse impact on EFH or Federally managed fisheries in the Gulf of Mexico. 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 Tampa Permits Section, 10117 Princess Palm Avenue, Suite 120, Tampa, Florida 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, Candice Wheelahan, in writing at the Tampa Permits Section, 10117 Princess Palm Avenue, Suite 120, Tampa, Florida 33610; by electronic mail at Candice.M.Wheelahan@usace.army.mil; by facsimile transmission at (813)769-7061; or, by telephone at (813)769-7064.
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.