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: Halvorsen Development Corporation
Attn: Mr. Thomas Vincent
851 South Federal Highway , Suite 201
Boca Raton, Florida 33432
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect waters of the United States associated with Black Creek. The project site is located near 3569 Old Jennings Road, in Sections 30 and 31, Township 4 South, Range 25 East, Middleburg, Clay County Florida.
Directions to the site are as follows: From Interstate 10 take Exit 350 and head south on First Coast Expressway. Proceed until Exit 32 and turn right onto Old Jennings Road. Proceed until just before the intersection of Tynes Boulevard.
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES: Latitude 30.115376°
Basic: The basic project purpose is commercial development.
Overall: The overall project purpose is commercial development in northern Middleburg, Florida.
EXISTING CONDITIONS: The 34.88-acre property encompasses existing vegetative communities and land uses have been characterized pursuant to the Florida Department of Transportation publication Florida Land Use, Cover and Forms Classification System (FLUCFCS).
A. Uplands 12.01 acres
1. Long Leaf Pine-Xeric Oak (FLUCFCS 412) 8.20 acres
The western third of the property contains an area of “sandhill” vegetation. This is the highest portion of the property and contains the better-drained soils (Penney fine sand and Albany fine sand). This area may have been managed as unimproved pasture for many years as most of the trees had been harvested decades ago. The existing vegetation includes a canopy of scattered loblolly pine (Pinus taeda), longleaf pine (Pinus palustris), and live oak (Quercus virginiana). The understory and ground cover vegetation is relatively open and includes such species as scattered saw palmetto (Serenoa repens), broomsedge (Andropogon sp.), and bracken fern (Pteridium aquilinum).
2. Pine Flatwoods (FLUCFCS 411) 2.92 acres
The areas immediately downslope of the sandhill comprise pine flatwoods. These areas may contain a soil like Mandarin fine sand. The canopy includes such species as slash pine (Pinus elliottii), loblolly bay (Gordonia lasianthus), and southern magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora). The understory and ground cover vegetation are relatively dense and include such species as saw palmetto, bitter gallberry (Ilex glabra), and bracken fern.
3. Utilities (FLUCFCS 830) 0.89 acre
The southern edge of the property includes a strip of mowed land containing underground utilities. The dominant vegetation in this area includes such species as bahia grass (Paspalum notatum).
B. Wetlands 22.87 acres
The wetlands onsite drain offsite to the northeast and connect to a small-unnamed tributary of Little Black Creek.
1. Wetland Forested Mixed (FLUCFCS 630) 11.41 acres
The wetlands outside of the power line easement may be characterized as a seepage slope or wetland forested mixed community. Most of the trees in this area were clear-cut sometime in 2010 or 2011. The canopy that has reestablished since then is relatively young.
The canopy along the upper edge of the seepage slope includes such species as pond pine (Pinus serotina), slash pine and loblolly bay. The canopy in the lower areas includes such species as blackgum (Nyssa sylvatica var. biflora), sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua), sweet bay (Magnolia virginiana), and tulip poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera). The understory and ground cover vegetation include such species as wax myrtle (Morella cerifera), fetterbush (Lyonia lucida), bamboo vine (Smilax laurifolia), cinnamon fern (Osmunda cinnamomea), netted chain fern (Woodwardia areolata), royal fern (Osmunda regalis), and Virginia willow (Itea virginica). The ground water in the seepage slope wetland slowly flows across the underlying layer of clayey material in the soil and seeps out of the ground all along the slope.
2. Vegetated Non-Forested (FLUCFCS 640) 11.46 acres
The area under the overhead power lines may be characterized as vegetated non-forested or herbaceous wetlands. The transmission line towers are located on fill pads, which have not been mapped out separately as uplands. Likewise, the patrol road along the eastern property boundary was not depicted separately as upland.
The wetlands under the power lines had historically comprised forested wetlands that were cleared when the power lines were installed and have subsequently been maintained as herbaceous wetlands. The dominant vegetation includes a variety of species such as marsh fleabane (Pluchea sp.), sedges (Rhynchospora spp., Carex spp. and Cyperus spp.), wax myrtle, and various grasses. Much of the herbaceous wetland under the power line comprises seepage slope wetland. The lowest areas will contain shallow puddled water during the rainy season.
PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks authorization to discharge clean-fill material into 2.6 acres of freshwater-forested wetlands to facilitate the construction of a grocery store and commercial retail stores, 303 parking spaces, 3 stormwater retention ponds, and associated infrastructure.
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:
“Impacts to the majority of wetlands would be avoided.” The applicant provided an alternative site analysis.
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION – The applicant has offered the following compensatory mitigation plan to offset unavoidable functional loss to the aquatic environment:
The applicant has proposed to purchase 1.17 palustrine-forested credits from Loblolly Mitigation Bank.
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.
Option A: The Corps has determined the proposed project may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect the eastern indigo snake (Drymarchon corais couperi). The Corps used, The Eastern Indigo Snake Programmatic Effect Determination Key, August 2017 to develop our determination. The applicant has agreed to implement the Standard Protection Measures for the Eastern Indigo Snake, August 12, 2013. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has indicated that they concur with determinations of may affect, not likely to adversely affect based on the key for eastern indigo snakes; and, that no additional consultation 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 in 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 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.
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 AND COMMENTS concerning this application should be directed to the project manager, Mr. Brad Carey, by electronic mail at firstname.lastname@example.org; or, by telephone at (904) 232-2405.
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.