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 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 (33 U.S.C. §403) and Section 404 of the Clean Water Act (33 U.S.C. §1344) as described below:
APPLICANT: Ponce Associates, LLC
Attn: Mr. Doug Maier
1548 The Greens Way, Suite #6
Jacksonville Beach, Florida 32250
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect waters of the United States (wetlands) hydrologically connected to the headwaters of Robinson Creek, a tidal creek that flows into the Tolomato River. The project site is located east of United States Highway 1, in Section 42 and 54, Township 6 South, Ranges 29 and 30 East,
St. Augustine, St. Johns County, Florida.
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES: Latitude 29.940829°
Basic: The basic project purpose is transportation and utility line placement.
Overall: The overall project purpose is the completion of the infrastructure associated with the Madiera residential subdivision in St. Johns County, Florida.
EXISTING CONDITIONS: The project site is located within the old Ponce De Leon Golf Course. The golf course was closed in 2003 and was permitted for development of the Madiera Subdivision in January 2013. Development on the west side of the subdivision and mitigation for the west and east side of the subdivision has already been implemented; however, the replacement of the golf cart crossing with a culverted roadway crossing as well as utility line placement was not completed before the Department of the Army permit expired on January 22, 2018. The golf cart crossing is 10 feet wide and spans intertidal estuarine saltmarsh of Robinson Creek. The crossing currently has two pipes that are 12 inches in diameter for flow north to south under the crossing, which connect the marsh flow to the north side of Robinson Creek.
PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks authorization to discharge clean fill material over a total of 0.09 acre of saltmarsh. The project would replace the existing 10-foot-wide golf cart crossing and two 12-inch-diameter culvert pipes with a 24-foot-wide roadway with a 6-foot-wide sidewalk spanning four 48-inch-diameter reinforced concrete pipes, which would improve tidal flow to the northern part of Robinson Creek. The fill around the culverts would total 0.04 acre. Additionally, utility lines would be installed by open cut trench down to a minimum depth of 3 feet below the existing marsh floor. The trench would be back filled to the existing marsh floor elevation and allowed to revegetate naturally. The impact area associated with the utility lines would total 0.05 acre. Best management practices would be required in project construction.
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 roadway crossing of Robinson Creek is located along the existing historic golf cart path. Alignment and width of the crossing has been reduced to the smallest footprint that is practicable. The proposed utility lines would be placed under the marsh floor, which also minimizes the amount of fill needed for the roadway crossing. The previous January 2013 permit authorized 0.16 acres of permanent impact for the crossing and utility lines; the amount of fill has been reduced to 0.09 acres. Best management practices would be required in the construction.
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION: The applicant has offered the following compensatory mitigation plan to offset unavoidable functional loss to the aquatic environment:
The previous permit authorized 0.16 acres of fill for this crossing. That impact has already been mitigated by the approved mitigation plan from the January 2013 permit. That mitigation plan included 0.21 acres of saltmarsh restoration, which has been completed and deemed successful by the Corps.
CULTURAL RESOURCES: During the evaluation of the original Department of the Army permit action, the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) reviewed the Florida Master Site File, SHPO Records, and a Phase II archaeological survey conducted in 2000 by the applicant’s consultant, Environmental Services Incorporated (ESI). The survey identified archeological resources eligible for listing on the National Historic Register. The SHPO also noted that mitigation procedures were conducted between January and June, 2003, in accordance with the Scopes of Work submitted by ESI and approved by the SHPO. The SHPO concurred with the results of the mitigation effort and, in consideration of the archeological work accomplished at the overall site, determined that the proposed project would have no adverse effect on historical resources. By copy of this public notice, the Corps is providing information for review in the reauthorization of the already permitted work. 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 project area.
Manatee (Trichechus manatus): This project site is within the consultation area for the manatee. Since the proposal by the applicant is for in-water construction, potential impacts to the manatee were evaluated using The Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District, and the State of Florida Effect Determination Key for the Manatee in Florida, April 2013. Use of this key resulted in the sequential determination A > no effect as the project is not located in waters accessible to manatees and does not directly or indirectly affect manatees. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) previously indicated that they concur with determinations of no effect based on the key for manatees; and, that no additional consultation is necessary.
Wood Stork (Mycteria americana): The project site is less than five miles from the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Wood Stork colony and is within the Wood Stork core foraging area. Therefore, this species may be present at the project site. However, work proposed would affect less than 0.5 acre of suitable foraging habitat. 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 > C > not likely to adversely affect. In consideration of the key sequence, additional coordination with the FWS is not required.
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 public notice initiates consultation with the National Marine Fisheries Service on EFH as required by the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act 1996. The project would impact approximately 0.09 acres of estuarine intertidal saltmarsh. The aquatic resources may be utilized by shrimp (Farfantepenaeus spp., Penaeus sp., and/or Litopenaeus spp.), snapper (Lutjanus spp.) and grouper (Mycteroperca spp. and/or Epinephelus spp.). In consideration of the previously implemented compensatory mitigation, the Corps’ initial determination is that the proposed action would not have a substantial adverse impact on EFH. Our final determination relative to project impacts is subject to review 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 has verified the extent of Federal jurisdiction.
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 15 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, Terri M. Mashour, in writing at the Jacksonville Permits Section, Post Office Box 4970, Jacksonville, Florida 32232; by electronic mail at firstname.lastname@example.org; by facsimile transmission at (904) 232-1940; or, by telephone at (904) 570-4512.
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.