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:
Waterfront Homes of Charlotte, LLC.
c/o Mr. Khalil Saab
3407 Torrey Road
Flint, Michigan 48507
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect waters of the United States, associated with Hunter Creek and the Peace River. The project site is located along the east side of the Peace River/Hunter Creek, north of Palm Shores Boulevard, west of Duncan Road (SR-17), and south of Lee Branch Waterway, in Sections 11 and 12, Township 40 South, Range 23 East, Punta Gorda, Charlotte County, Florida.
Directions to the site are as follows: Exit I-75 onto SR-17 heading north approximately 6.5 miles. Head west on Palm Shores Boulevard for approximately 0.80 miles. The project site is north of Palm Shores Boulevard.
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES:
Basic: To construct a mixed-use residential/commercial development with marina.
Overall: Construct a mixed-use residential/commercial development with a marina in northern Charlotte County.
EXISTING CONDITIONS: The project site is approximately 123 acres, with 112.50 acres of uplands, 6.84 acres of borrow pits, and 3.68 acres of wetlands. The wetland system consists of 3.65 acres of saltwater marsh. The onsite vegetation consists of red mangrove (Rhizophora mangle), black needle rush (Juncus roemerianus), Brazilian pepper (Schinus terebinthifolius), buttonwood (Conocarpus erectus), giant bulrush (Scirpus californicus), leather fern (Acrostichum spp.), flat sedge (Cyperus longan), primrose willow (Ludwigia peruviana), and saltbush (Baccharis halimofolia). The existing area consists of mostly single family residential development and large parcels of open land.
BACKGROUND: A Standard Permit was issued on May 16, 2012 to construct a 123-acre mixed-use residential and commercial development. Project construction did not commence by the permit expiration date of May 16, 2017. A subsequent permit modification was issued on April 5, 2018, extending the permit expiration date to April 6, 2020. However, project construction did not commence by the expiration date of the modification.
PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks a five (5) year time extension to the construction window to construct the previously approved 123-acre mixed-used residential and commercial development. The project would consist of creating a new tidal basin connected to Hunter Creek, extending to the east approximately 1,500 feet. The new waterway would be created by excavating a 205,709 square foot area to a depth of -5 feet Mean Low Water (MLW). In addition, the applicant proposes to impact approximately 0.02 acre of wetlands and dredge 7,392 square feet of Hunter Creek to a depth of -5 feet MLW. The dredged material will be temporarily placed in the uplands and contained within a dredged material handling area surrounded by silt fencing. The dredge material will eventually be used as fill for the upland areas of the project. The project would result in the creation of 145 boat slips, including 32 wet slips (23 slips located in Hunter Creek, 9 slips in the basin), and 98 dry slips (upload boat storage an existing boat ramp with 15 trailer spaces, a restaurant, a clubhouse, and pool with 0.02 acre wetland impacts.
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 original project included impacts to 0.045 acre of the 3.65 acres of on-site wetlands and have a total of 451 new boat slips (wet and dry). The project was later minimized resulting in impacts to a 0.02 acre project area including a decrease in the number of boat slips from 451 to 145 (wet and dry). The applicant will also comply with the Standard Manatee Conditions for In-water Work and the Sea Turtle and Smalltooth Sawfish Construction Conditions.
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION – The applicant has offered the following compensatory mitigation plan to offset unavoidable functional loss to the aquatic environment: The applicant proposes to purchase 0.01 Federal saltwater forested wetland mitigation credits from the Little Pine Island Mitigation Bank (SAJ-1994-00037) to offset the functional loss of 0.007 acre of tidal wetlands.
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 received a Letter of Concurrence from the National Marine Fisheries Service – Protected Resource Division (NMFS-PRD) dated January 21, 2010 and reconfirmed via e-mail on September 22, 2020, determining that the proposed action may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect (MANLAA), the Green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas), Kemp’s ridley sea turtle (Lepidochelys kempii), Loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta), Smalltooth sawfish (Pristis pectinata) and designated critical habitat
and concluded consultation. As a Special Condition, the Corps will include the Sea Turtle and Smalltooth Sawfish Construction Conditions, 2006.
The Corps has determined the proposal may affect the Florida bonneted bat (Eumops floridanus), the Eastern Indigo snake (Drymarchon corais couperi), West Indian manatee (Trichechus manatus), Florida scrub jay (Aphelocoma coerulescens), Wood stork (Mycteria americana), and the Crested caracara (Polyborus plancus audubonii) or any designated critical habitat. The Corps will request initiation of formal consultation with the Fish and Wildlife Service pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act by separate letter.
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 0.02 acres of estuarine substrata and emergent tidal wetlands utilized by various life stages of Red Drum (Sciaenops ocellatus), Reef fish (various spp.), Migratory/Pelagic fish (various spp.), and Snapper/Grouper Complex.
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.
COMMENTS regarding the potential authorization of the work proposed should be submitted in writing to the attention of the District Engineer through the Fort Myers Permits Section, 1520 Royal Palm Square Blvd., STE 310, Fort Myers, Florida 33919 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, Erin Campbell, in writing at the Fort Myers Permits Section, 1520 Royal Palm Square Blvd., STE 310, Fort Myers, Florida 33919; by electronic mail at Erin.M.Campbell@usace.army.mil; or, by telephone at (239)334-1975x0013.
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, aesthetics, 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.