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:
Empire State Holding Group, LLC.
5800 Lakewood Ranch Blvd.
Sarasota, Florida 34240
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect waters of the United States associated with Mill Creek. The project site is located east of south side of State Road 64 between White Eagle Boulevard and Mill Creek, in Section 4, Township 35 South, Range 19 East and Section 33, Township 34 South, Range 19 East, Manatee County, Florida.
Directions to the site are as follows: From I-75 South take exit 220 for FL-64 E toward Wauchula/Zolfo Springs. Turn left onto FL-64 East. Turn right onto Pope Rd destination will be on the left.
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES:
Basic: Residential Development
Overall: Residential Development with infrastructure and storm water management
System in Manatee County.
EXISTING CONDITIONS: The 40.32 acre project site contains approximately 4.02 acres of jurisdictional wetlands, approximately 0.79 acres of Waters of the US (WOUS), and 2.17 acres of non-jurisdictional surface waters. The project site consists of 33.47 acres of uplands including low density residential, unimproved pastures, mixed hardwoods.
PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks authorization to fill 0.65 acres and dredge 0.36 acres of jurisdictional wetlands and also proposes to dredge approximately 0.39 acres of an agricultural ditch considered WOUS within the 40.32 acre property to support future infrastructure, including a stormwater management system within a residential 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:
Development of the project has limited wetland impacts to the greatest extent necessary to develop the property in an economically feasible manner. However, the project will result in the permanent loss of 1.01 acres of jurisdictional wetlands and a temporary dredging impact to 0.39 acres of WOUS. Other designs considered that would have restricted wetland impacts necessitated development within the regulatory floodway of Mill Creek. Avoiding development within the regulatory floodway of Mill Creek would have significantly lowered the lot yield such that the property is not economically viable to develop and was deemed a greater risk to public safety. Therefore, the proposed design was necessitated by restrictions of development within the regulatory floodway of Mill Creek and the subsequent clustering of proposed lots.
The project has been designed to preserve and enhance the higher quality wetlands that will continue to provide quality habitat to wetland dependent and aquatic species. Where feasible, stormwater ponds and internal roads have been located adjacent to wetlands so as to minimize the amount of residential, and/or commercial development that would be located in these areas. Consequently, this site has been designed with attention to environmental sensitivity, aesthetics and functionality.
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION – The applicant has offered the following compensatory mitigation plan to offset unavoidable functional loss to the aquatic environment: The applicant is proposing to create onsite wetlands within the regulatory floodway of Mill Creek as mitigation for the proposed wetland impacts.
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 not likely to adversely affect” the Eastern Indigo Snake. 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 no gopher tortoise burrows, holes, cavities, or other refugia where a snake could be buried or trapped and injured during project activities) = May Affect Not Likely To Adversely Affect (MANLAA). The Corps has U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) concurrence for the proposed activities through use of the aforementioned determination key.
Wood Stork - The Corps has determined the proposed project “may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect” wood stork. The proposed activity is within the Core Foraging Area (CFA) of four rookeries; 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 SFH) > C (Project impacts to SFH are greater than or equal to 0.5 acres) > D (Project impacts to SFH within the CFA of a colony site) > E (Project provides SFH compensation) = Not Likely to Adversely Affect (NLAA). The project provides SFH compensation within the CFA consisting of enhancement, restoration or creation (and federal mitigation bank credits) that provides an amount of habitat and foraging function equivalent to that of the impacted SFH; in accordance with the Clean Water Act section 404(b)(1) guidelines, and is not contrary to the habitat management guidelines. The Corps has U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) concurrence for the proposed activities through use of the aforementioned determination key.
Based on existing habitat types, the Corps preliminarily determined the project will have no effect on Audubon’s crested caracara (Caracara cheriway) 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. The proposal would impact approximately 1.4 acres of wetlands and surface waters which ultimately discharge to the Manatee River via Mill Creek. Our initial determination is that the proposed action would not have a substantial adverse impact on downstream 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 (NMFS).
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 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.