Public Notice Notifications

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Florida - This includes all public notices for projects being reviewed for Standard Permits within the State of Florida.

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SAJ-2020-00278 (SP-PTR)

Published July 7, 2020
Expiration date: 7/28/2020
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:

KB Homes
4105 Crescent Park Drive
Riverview, Florida 33578

WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect waters of the United States associated with Buffalo Canal. The project contains freshwater wetlands, surface water, and other waters of the U.S. The project site is located at 10400 Moccasin Wallow Road at Section 24, Township 33 South, & Range 18 East in Palmetto, Manatee County, Florida.

Directions to the site are as follows: I-75 to exit 229 97th Street/East Moccasin Wallow Road. East on Moccasin Wallow Road to 10400 Moccasin Wallow Road on the left.

Latitude 27.598719°
Longitude -82.453904°

Basic: To Develop Residential Housing
Overall: To construct a single family residential development with supporting infrastructure ( i.e., transportation access, surface water management, utility services) and community amenities on approximately 129 +/- acres.

EXISTING CONDITIONS: The Project Site is characterized as undeveloped lands, historically utilized for agriculture. The site is bounded by undeveloped remnant historic agriculture fields west and north, forested and residential lands to the east and Moccasin Wallow Road at the southern property boundary. No regionally significant parks or preserves are present surrounding the project site.

The project area is approximately 129 acres and is comprised of a mix of upland and wetland habitats (Figures attached). The onsite vegetation consists of the following:

Open Lands - these areas dominate the land use within the Project Site. Overall, this habitat type consists of pasture grasses including Bahia grass (Paspalum notatum), smutt grass (Sporobolis indicus), and Bermuda grass (Cynodon dactylon).

Hardwood Conifer Mixed - these forested areas are generally associated with the mixed forested wetlands that occur within the project site. Within this habitat type the canopy is dominated by laurel oak (Quercus laurifolia) and, to a lesser extent, slash pine (Pinus elliottii). Other canopy species include cabbage palm (Sabal palmetto), water oak (Quercus nigra), live oak (Quercus virginiana), and red cedar (Juniperus virginiana).

Ditches - a network of upland-cut agricultural drainage ditches have been constructed throughout the property. These ditches are dominated by cattail (Typha latifolia) and primrose willow (Ludwigia peruviana). Historically the ditches were constructed to provide hydrologic regime control for the production of crops.

Wetland Forested Mixed - there are seven wetlands within the project site. In their current condition, the wetlands have all been hydrologically altered by the drainage ditch network that was constructed to lower the water table on the property to improve its suitability for agriculture. The edge of the majority of the wetlands on the property consist of dense thickets of Brazilian pepper (Schinus terebinthifolius). The majority of the wetland have a canopy that is primarily dominated by red maple (Acer rubrum), but also contains species such as sweet bay (Magnolia virginiana), laurel oak, water oak, Chinese tallow tree (Sapium sebiferum) and cabbage palm.

PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks authorization to develop the property for a residential development and to provide for the infrastructure, i.e., transportation access, surface water management, and utility services. The applicant is proposing to avoid all the wetland areas and impact approximately 6.23 acres of impacts to upland-cut drainage ditches.

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: All impacts to wetland shave been avoided in the development of the site plan. However, in order to construct the access roads and finish side slopes of some of the residential lots, approximately 6.23 acres of impacts to upland cut agricultural drainage ditches that are overgrown with invasive species will be required. Filling the ditches will likely result in a hydrologic improvement to the wetlands.

COMPENSATORY MITIGATION – The applicant has provided the following explanation why compensatory mitigation should not be required: As the only impacts required to construct the project are to agricultural drainage ditches, no wetland mitigation is proposed.

CULTURAL RESOURCES: The applicant completed a desktop assessment (attached) of the McClure Parcel B Property in Manatee County, Florida completed. The assessment reviewed all known cultural resources within a one-mile radius of the proposed project area in Manatee County, Florida. This included a search of the current Florida Master Site File (FMSF) in GIS format for archaeological and historic resources.

A search of the FMSF (updated January 2020) found that a total of 10 cultural resource field surveys have been conducted within one mile of the project area, between 2000 and 2018. Only one archaeological site has been recorded within one mile of the project area. This was a prehistoric low density artifact scatter dating to the Middle to Late Archaic. It was determined ineligible for the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) by the State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO).

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, but is not likely to adversely affect the following species or their designated critical habitat. The Corps will request U.S. Fish and Wildlife/National Marine Fisheries Service concurrence with this determination pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act.

Eastern Indigo Snake - The eastern indigo snake (Drymarchon corais couperi) is wide-ranging and may be expected in a wide variety of habitats at low densities. As part of the site review of upland and wetland habitats within the site, ecologists conducted a listed species survey consisting of meandering pedestrian transects and a 15 percent gopher tortoise survey. As many species are cryptic, particular attention was paid to cavities, snags, burrows, tracks, scat, etc. A 15 percent gopher tortoise survey was conducted by a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) Authorized Gopher Tortoise agent. No gopher tortoises or burrows were observed. No other listed species or evidence thereof was observed during the site review.

Utilizing the Eastern Indigo Snake Programmatic Effect Determination Key (USFWS 2017) yielded the following progression: A (not located in open water or salt marsh) > B (Permit will be conditioned for Standard Protection Measures) > C (burrows, holes, cavities, or refugia are not present) - Not Likely to Adversely Affect (NLAA). Based on the progression through the Key, a NLAA determination the requirements of Section 7 of the Act are fulfilled and no further action is required. Adherence to the FWS Standard Protection Measures for Eastern Indigo Snakes during construction will minimize potential impacts to the eastern indigo snake should they occur in or adjacent to the project area.

Wood Stork - (Mycteria Americana) is listed as Endangered by both the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service (FWS) and FWC. This species nests colonially in a variety of inundated forested wetlands and forages mainly in shallow water in freshwater marshes, swamps, ponds, flooded pastures and ditches.

The project site is located within the Core Foraging Area (CFA) of wood stork colonies in Manatee County. Using the South Florida Programmatic Concurrence Key for the Wood Stork (May 18, 2010), yielded the following progression: A (Impacts SFH >0.47 mile from colony) > B (Impact to SFH < 0.5 acre) > Not Likely to Adversely Affect (NLAA). Based on the progression through the Key, a NLAA determination the requirements of Section 7 of the Act are fulfilled and no further action is required. More than 5 acres of upland cut ditches is proposed but the dense vegetation in the ditches preclude them from being optimal SFH. Onsite wetlands equal 18.85 acres, which have been avoided will compensate for the ditch impacts.

The project site has also been evaluated for Crested Caracara (Caracara cheriway) and Florida Scrub Jay (Aphelocoma coerulescens). The project site consists of recently abandoned farmed fields. The uplands are completely over-run with aggressive early succession plant species (weeds), generally about 3 feet tall. The wetlands consist of thickets of Brazilian pepper. There is no suitable habitat for any of these species. The only part of the property that has any intact native habitat is located in the southwest corner and that area will be avoided. The Corps has made a no effect determination for these species due to lack of habitat and/or presence.

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 the Tampa Bay area and Gulf Of Mexico. 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 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, Peter Romano, in writing at the Tampa Permits Section, 10117 Princess Palm Avenue, Suite 120, Tampa, Florida 33610; by electronic mail at; by facsimile transmission at (813)769-7061; or, by telephone at (813)769-7072.

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.