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:
APPLICANT: Dale Smith
477 Houston Street
Green Cove Springs, Florida 32043
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect waters of the United States associated with Little Black Creek. The project site is located along the east side of State Road 23 South (FL-23 S)/Challenger Drive directly across from Trail Ridge Road. The project is located in Section 20, Township 4 South, Range 25 East, Middleburg, Clay County, Florida.
Directions to the site are as follows: Traveling from downtown Jacksonville take Interstate 10 (I-10) west to State Road 23 South (FL-23 S). Follow FL-23 S to the project site which is located on the east side of FL-23 S directly across from Trail Ridge Road.
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES:
Basic: The basic project purpose is linear transportation.
Overall: The overall project purpose is to construct an access road for future mixed-use commercial, industrial, and residential development in northeast Clay County.
EXISTING CONDITIONS: The project site is a 442-acre parcel located on the east side of State Road 23 South (FL-23 S)/Challenger Drive directly across from Trail Ridge Road. The project area is bounded by newly planted pine plantation and wetlands. There are large tracts of wetlands to the north and east of the project site. The vegetation on the project site has been impacted by silviculture. The parcel is currently vacant and includes the following categories of land as classified by the Florida Land Use, and Cover Classification System: Unimproved Pastures (FLUCCS 2120), Coniferous Plantation (FLUCCS 4410), Pine Flatwoods (FLUCCS 4110), Upland Mixed-Coniferous/Hardwoods (FLUCCS 4340), Mixed Wetland Hardwoods (FLUCCS 6170), Wetland Forested Mixed (FLUCCS 6300), and Freshwater Marshes (FLUCCS 6410). The soils on the project site consist of Leon fine sand, Ortega fine sand, Meggett fine sandy loam, Pelham fine sand, and Surrency fine sand. The environmental consultant did not provide any further information about the existing site conditions.
PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks authorization to place fill material in 0.81 acre of waters of the United States in association with the construction of a 4-lane, 0.50-mile long access road. The proposed access road would be extended in the future as growth occurs. The new roadway would serve as access to a planned multi-use development that would ultimately include commercial, industrial, and residential properties. The total plan of development for the roadway has the potential for additional direct impacts to 3.31 acres of wetlands and additional secondary impacts to 11.72 acres of wetlands.
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 preliminary stages of design, Clay County conducted a roadway alignment alternatives analysis to determine the least impactful path for the new roadway. The current design reflects that path and attempts to minimize disturbance to the on-site wetlands to the largest extent possible. The path for the potential future roadway extension has similarly been analyzed to minimize wetland disturbance.
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION – The applicant has offered the following compensatory mitigation plan to offset unavoidable functional loss to the aquatic environment:
Clay County proposes to mitigate for unavoidable wetland impacts through the purchase of credits at an approved mitigation bank in the area.
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: Since the proposed project site includes unimproved pastures, pine flatwoods, and freshwater marsh, the Corps evaluated the potential effects of the proposed work on the Eastern Indigo Snake (Drymarchon corais couperi) using The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (USFWS) South and North Florida Ecological Services Field Offices Programmatic Effect Determination Key – 2010 (Key). Use of the Key resulted in the following sequence: A > B > C > Not Likely to Adversely Affect the Eastern Indigo Snake, with no further consultation with the USFWS required.
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 proposed work would not occur in an area of EFH. The Corps’ initial determination is that the proposed action would not have a substantial adverse impact on EFH or Federally managed fisheries in Little Black Creek. 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 Jacksonville Permits Section, P.O. Box 4970, Jacksonville, Florida 32232-0019, 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, Paula R. Johnson, in writing at the Jacksonville Permits Section, P.O. Box 4970, Jacksonville, Florida 32232-0019; by telephone at (904)232-2503 or by electronic mail at email@example.com.
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.