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) and Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 (33 U.S.C. §403) as described below:
Lennar Homes, LLC
6750 Forum Drive, Suite 310
Orlando, Florida 32821
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect waters of the United States associated with Lake Louisa and the Palatlakaha River. The project site is located east of U.S. Highway 27 and west of 5 Mile Road, in Section 22, Township 23 South, Range 26 East, Clermont, Lake County, Florida.
Directions to the site are as follows: Travel east from the intersection of US Highway 27 and Schofield Road. As the road makes a 90 degree bend to the south, the gate is on the east side of the road.
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES:
Basic: Residential Development
Overall: Construction of a 608.24± acre residential development in Lake County, Florida.
EXISTING CONDITIONS: The proposed project area consists of proposed 608.24± acres, of which approximately 206± acres are freshwater wetlands. The subject parcel currently supports 7 land use types/vegetative communities within its boundaries. The land use types/vegetative communities were identified using the Florida Land Use, Cover and Forms Classification System (FLUCFCS). The following provides a brief description of the land use types/vegetative communities identified on the Subject Parcel:
Improved Pasture (211)
The majority of the Subject Parcel consists of Improved Pasture with densely rooted bahia grass (Paspalum notatum). Additional groundcover within the improved pasture consists of lantana (Lantana camara), dog fennel (Eupatorium capillifolium), ragweed (Ambrosia spp.), and mexican clover (Richardia sp.). Canopy trees such as live oak (Quercus virginiana), sand live oak (Quercus geminata), pine (Pinus spp) and saw palmetto (Serenoa repens) are scattered throughout this area.
Other Open Lands (260)
There are several portions of land on the northern part of the Subject Parcel that were cleared in May of 2017. Vegetation in this area has been allowed to regrow and now consists of Pokeweed (Phytolacca americana), citron melons (Citrullus caffer) and bahia grass.
Longleaf Pine – Xeric Oak (412)
Some scattered areas bordering the wetlands consist of densely vegetated pine with a few smaller oaks mixed in. The ground cover of this area has a variety of species including lantana, bahia grass and saw palmetto.
Xeric Oak (421)
Other areas bordering the wetlands can be described as Xeric oak communities. With vegetation consisting of live oak, sand live oak and small patches of bahia grass. Some of these areas also have a dense undergrowth of saw palmetto.
Freshwater Marshes (641)
There is a large freshwater marsh located in the northwestern portion of the Subject Parcel. Additionally, there are several smaller, isolated wetlands scattered throughout the northern portion. The wetland has varying densities of vegetation including soft rush (Juncus spp.), umbrella sedge (Cyperus involucratus), marsh-pink (Sabatia grandiflora), Carolina redroot (Lachnanthes caroliniana), water lily (Nymphaea odorata), spatterdock (Nuphar lutea) and maidencane (Panicum hemitomon), marsh mermaidweed (Proserpinaca palustris), spadeleaf (Centella asiatica), marsh penny wort (Hydrocotyle umbellata), maidencane (Panicum hemitomon), buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis), St. John’ wort (Hypericum sp.), marsh mermaidweed (Proserpinaca palustris), and yellow-eyed grass (Xyris caroliniana).
Disturbed Land (740)
There is an area in the northwestern portion of the Subject Parcel which has been used to stockpile fill associated with the construction of U.S. Highway 27. This area still appears to be actively used. Vegetation in this area is sparse and limited to various weeds on top of the piles such as dog fennel, lantana, bahia grass, and ragweed.
There are distribution lines associated with Orange County’s Conserve II water reclamation program that run underground along the southern property boundary. The easement is mowed and maintained, and dominant vegetation consists of bahia grass. The distribution line turns north in the southeastern portion of the property with ultimate outfall into a sinkhole. The sinkhole consists primarily of an oak community. There are a series of water control valves along the southern boundary; these control valves are owned by Conserve II and are outparcels. The water control valves are used to dispose of treated effluent that is discharged as need into the sinkhole. It is assumed that there is some type of easement between Orange County and the landowner that allows for this use.
PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks authorization to construct a residential subdivision, with associated roads, infrastructure, and stormwater management system.
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:
Deliberation was given to possible site layouts that provided for the intended onsite uses given the configuration of the parcel, the location, size and value of the wetlands and the need to provide efficient vehicular and pedestrian transit routes. Significant research was conducted prior to development of the regional road network, of which the proposed impacts are a part. The Wellness Way Design Traffic Report is publicly available and outlines the methodology behind the road network design.
Jurisdictional wetlands proposed for impact include W1 and W4B. The total jurisdictional wetland impact area is 6.71 acres. Due to the location of these wetlands, avoidance of the proposed impacts would conflict with the regional road network alignment approved by Lake County. The proposed impacts to these systems have been minimized to the greatest extent practicable.
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION – The applicant has offered the following compensatory mitigation plan to offset unavoidable functional loss to the aquatic environment:
The current proposed development of the subject parcel will result in a total of 6.71 acres of direct wetland impacts. The mitigation plan involves purchasing wetland mitigation credits from the Hammock Lake Mitigation Bank (HLMB). Because mitigation is being provided in-basin and at a 1:1 ratio for functional loss, no adverse cumulative impacts will occur as a result of this project. The functions provided by wetlands and uplands within the HLMB will offset the loss of any forage for wetland-dependent species, cover and refuge, and nesting opportunities that are lost as a result of wetland impacts associated with the Wellness Way project.
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 U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) has determined the proposed project “may affect” the Eastern Indigo Snake (Drymarchon corais couperi). Based on the Eastern Indigo Snake Effect Determination Key (dated January 25, 2010; August 13, 2013 Addendum), the Corps determination sequence is as follows: A (The project is not located in open water or salt marsh.) > B (The permit will be conditioned for use of the Service’s standard Protection Measures for the Eastern Indigo snake during site preparation and construction) > C (There are gopher tortoise burrows or other refugia.) > D (The project will impact more than 25 acres of xeric habitat (scrubby flatwoods) or more than 25 active and inactive gopher tortoise burrows) = May Affect. The Corps will initiate formal consultation with FWS.
The Corps has determined the proposed project “may affect” the Sand Skink (Neoseps reynoldsi). Sand skinks, as well as evidence of sand skink activity (e.g. tracks), were observed underlying coverboards and in open, sandy areas during the May 2018 sand skink survey. Based on the results of the sand skink survey, the Corps will initiate formal consultation with FWS.
The Corps has determined the project “May affect, not likely to adversely affect” (NLAA) the Wood Stork (Mycteria americana). The proposed activity is within the Core Foraging Area (CFA) of 1 rookery (Lawne Lake); the project supports Suitable Foraging Habitat (SFH) for wood stork. Based on the Effect Determination Key for the Wood Stork in Central and North Peninsular Florida (dated May 2008), the Corps determination sequence is as follows: A (Project more than 2,500 feet of an active colony site) > B (Project impacts to SFH) > C (Project impacts to SFH is greater in scope than 0.5 acres) > D (Project impacts to SFH are within the CFA of a colony site, or wood storks have been documented foraging on a project site outside the CFA) > E (Project provides SFH compensation within the Service Area of a Service-approved wetland mitigation bank or wood stork conservation bank preferably within the CFA, or consists of SFH compensation within the CFA consisting of enhancement, restoration or creation in a project phased approach that provides an amount of habitat and foraging function equivalent to that of impacted SFH, is not contrary to the Service’s Habitat Management Guidelines For The Wood Stork In The Southeast Region and in accordance with the CWA section 404(b)(1) guidelines) = NLAA. The Corps has U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) concurrence for the proposed activities through use of the aforementioned determination key.
The Corps has determined the proposal would have no effect on Everglade Snail Kite (Rostrhamus sociabilis plumbeus) and Florida Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma coerulescens).
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. 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 33610-8302 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, Ryan Hendren, in writing at the Tampa Permits Section, 10117 Princess Palm Avenue, Suite 120, Tampa, Florida 33610-8302; by electronic mail at Ryan.G.Hendren@usace.army.mil or, by telephone at 813-769-7075.
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.
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.