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:
BACKGROUND: A DA Permit was issued June 11, 2013 authorizing impacts to 7.2 acres of wetlands and 4.2 acres of agricultural irrigation/drainage ditches in order to construct a residential/commercial development. This permit was modified on June 12, 2018 extending the expiration date by 2 years to June 12, 2020. The applicant has only completed a portion of the proposed work. Of the previously authorized impacts, 1.0 acres of wetland and 0.6 acres of ditches remain. The current request for a modification is to extend the expiration date by 5 years to allow for completion of the previously authorized work.
APPLICANT: Principal Development Group, LLC
c/o Charles Scardina
7593 Boynton Beach Boulevard, Suite 220
Boynton Beach, Florida 33437
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The 17.67 acre project site is located within waters of the United States including wetlands and ditches located 7555 Umberto Place, Section 16, Township 46 South, Range 42 east, Delray Beach, Palm Beach County, Florida.
Directions to the site are as follows: From the Florida Turnpike take exit 81 for Atlantic Avenue. Continue for 0.8 miles and the project site will be on the north side of the road.
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES:
Latitude: 26.454655 °
Longitude: -80.164948 °
Basic: The basic project purpose is to construct a residential and commercial development.
Overall: The overall project purpose is to construct a residential and commercial development and associated improvements in southern Palm Beach County, Florida.
EXISTING CONDITIONS: The original permit authorized impacts to 7.2 acres of freshwater wetlands and 4.2 acres of agricultural irrigation/drainage ditches within the 112 acre site. A portion of the work has been completed. There is approximately 17.67 acres of undeveloped are remaining which contains1.0 acres of freshwater wetlands and 0.89 acres ditches remaining.
The remaining 17.67 acres consists of remnant agricultural land. The wetlands on site are low quality and consist of hyacinth, marsh pennywort, and various sedges. The ditches are maintained un-vegetated surface waters. The upland areas consist of Mexican clover and southern crab grass. The entire project are is disturbed due to cattle use.
PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks to extend expiration date of the permit issued on June 11, 2013 which expired June 11, 2020 by 5 years. The new expiration date would be June 11, 2025. The work authorized by the permit was as follows: The authorization includes filling 11.4 acres of waters of the United States including 7.2 acres of wetlands and 4.2 acres of irrigation and drainage ditches with approximately 53,000 cubic yards of fill in order to construct a residential development. Additionally, approximately 10.8 acres of onsite lakes for stormwater management were proposed. Of the originally authorized impacts, 0.6 acres of surface water and 1.0 acres of wetlands impact remain to be completed.
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 applicant has provided the following information in support of efforts to avoid and/or minimize impacts to the aquatic environment: The area of wetlands to be filled is the minimum necessary in order to construct a viable residential/commercial development given the associated infrastructure required, local building code requirements, and the location of the wetlands onsite.
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION – The applicant has offered the following compensatory mitigation plan to offset unavoidable functional loss to the aquatic environment:
The applicant has purchased 2.9 freshwater mitigation credits at the Loxahatchee Mitigation Bank in order to offset the wetland impacts proposed.
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, if necessary, those federally recognized tribes with concerns in Florida and the Permit Area.
The project is within the range and/or consultation area of the Everglades snail kite (Rostrhamus sociabilis), eastern indigo snake (Drymarchon corais couperi), and wood stork (Mycteria americana).
• Eastern Indigo Snake: The project site is located in an area where the eastern indigo snake may occur. The total project area contains approximately 112 acres of eastern indigo snake habitat. By use of the FWS revised Eastern Indigo Snake Key dated August 1, 2017, the following key sequence A>B>C may affect. However, the Corps evaluated the effect of the proposed work on the eastern indigo snake and determined that the proposed work may affect, but is not likely adversely affect this species. US Fish and Wildlife Service concurred with this determination by letter on 29 March 2012. The applicant will agree to conditions requiring that all gopher tortoise burrows, active or inactive, will be excavated prior to site manipulation in the vicinity of the burrow. If an eastern indigo snake is encountered, the snake must be allowed to vacate the area prior to additional site manipulation in the vicinity. Any permit will also be conditioned such that holes, cavities, and snake refugia other than gopher tortoise burrows will be inspected each morning before planned site manipulation of a particular area, and, if occupied by an eastern indigo snake, no work will commence until the snake has vacated the vicinity of proposed work.
• Everglades Snail Kite: The project is located within the species consultation area for the Everglades snail kite. The species regularly occur in lake shallows along the shores and islands of many major lakes, including Lakes Okeechobee, Kissimmee, Tohopekaliga (Toho) and East Toho. They also regularly occur in the expansive marshes of southern Florida such as Water Conservation Areas 1, 2, and 3, Everglades National Park, the upper St. John’s River marshes, and Grassy Waters Preserve. Kite foraging habitat consists of relatively shallow wetland vegetation, either within extensive marsh systems, or in lake littoral zones. Snail kite nesting substrate is typically located over open water at a distance of approximately 150 meters from the edge of water to provide protection to the nest. The project area contains heavily disturbed wetlands and surfaces waters within an active agriculture area. Due to the dense ground cover and lack of nesting trees in the remaining project area the Corps has determined that the project will have no effect on the species.
• Wood Stork: The proposed work is located within 6.74 miles of a wood stork nesting colony. The applicant previously authorized and remaining work requires impacts to wood stork foraging habitat. By use of the FWS Wood Stork Key dated January 25, 2010 and the May 18, 2010 addendum, the determination path is A-B-C-D-Not likely to adversely effect. The applicant has compensated for the wetland impacts with in-kind mitigation credit purchase. The Corps previously received concurrence from USFWS for this determination on 5 November 2008. .
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 1.60 acres of freshwater wetlands and surface waters. Our initial determination is that the proposed action would not have a substantial adverse impact on EFH or Federally managed fisheries in the South Atlantic Region. 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. 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 Palm Beach Gardens Permits Section, 4400 PGA Boulevard Suite 500, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida 33410 within 15 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, Trey Fraley, in writing at the Palm Beach Gardens Permits Section, 4400 PGA Boulevard Suite 500, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida 33410; by electronic mail at email@example.com, or, by telephone at (561) 472-3526.
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.