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:
Knapp Ackerman Lakeland, LLC
Mr. Jim Eyre
10 Glenlake Parkway, South Tower, Suite 1000
Atlanta, GA 30328
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect waters of the United States associated with the Green Swamp. The project site is located at 8100 SR-33 North; in Sections 10 & 11, Township 27 South, Range 24 East; Lakeland, Polk County, Florida.
Directions to the site are as follows: From Tampa, go east on I-4 to Exit 38, State Road 33. Turn left onto SR-33. Drive about 0.8 mile and the site is on the left. There is a gate and lock on a dirt entrance going into the site.
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES:
Overall: Expansion of a large warehouse (to 1-million square feet) and construction of associated infrastructure in Lakeland, Florida.
EXISTING CONDITIONS: The proposed project site is approximately 75 acres on the north side of SR-33. The existing site contains open lands, herbaceous uplands, and temperate hardwoods. In addition the site contains a single drainage ditch, freshwater marsh, and mixed hardwood wetlands.
PROJECT HISTORY: The Corps permitted a smaller 710,000 square foot warehouse on this parcel in 2018. The construction of the warehouse and associated infrastructure included the placement of fill in 0.24 acre of wetlands and 0.25 acre of surface waters. Mitigation consisted of the purchase of 0.11 federal mitigation bank credits.
PROPOSED WORK: The Applicant seeks authorization to fill 11.12 acres of waters of the United States for the expansion of a previously-permitted 710,000 square foot industrial warehouse to a 1,000,000 square foot warehouse, with the associated roadways, parking and stormwater.
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 increased demand from E-commerce is driving the need for larger more efficient warehouse designs, which necessitate larger floor plates, additional automobile parking for multiple shifts, and larger truck courts for the 53’ trailer with on-site trailer storage. There is a shortage of large, properly zoned Office/Warehouse land sites with access to sufficient public infrastructure to accommodate a 1,000,000 SF distribution center in the I-4 central Florida market that aren’t encumbered by a number of natural and man-made constraints. In addition, there are economies of scale and a reduction in the construction schedule available for an expansion that cannot be captured in a greenfield development. Therefore, expansion of the existing building to 1 msf to accommodate E-commerce users, in an area that state and local planning agencies have designated for Office/Warehouse growth, on a site with mitigatable environmental impacts will greatly improve the success of the Project over building a new 1 msf building on a greenfield site.”
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION – The applicant has offered the following compensatory mitigation plan to offset unavoidable functional loss to the aquatic environment: The applicant will purchase credits from a federally approved mitigation bank.
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 the Eastern Indigo Snake. This determination was made using the 2017 Consultation Key for the Eastern Indigo Snake. The Corps will request U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service concurrence with this determination pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act.
The Corps has determined the proposed project may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect the Wood Stork. This determination was made using the 2010 Wood Stork Key for South Florida. Pursuant to the key, no further consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is necessary.
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 or Candice.M.Wheelahan@usace.army.mil 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.