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

Antilles - This includes all public notices for projects being reviewed for Standard Permits within the Antilles area (this includes Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands).

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SAJ-2019-02277 (SP-EPS)

Published Dec. 17, 2020
Expiration date: 1/7/2021

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:  Scott Bitterman
                       Okaloosa County Engineer
                       1759 S. Ferdon Blvd
                       Crestview, FL 32536

WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect waters of the United States associated with Juniper Creek and Williams Branch. The project is located north of Interstate 10, between Antioch Road and SR 85, Crestview, Okaloosa County, Florida.

Directions to the site are as follows: The project corridor can be accessed from the west by going south on Antioch Rd. from US 90 west of Crestview and then taking Arena Rd. to the east. The corridor can be accessed from the east by taking SR 85 to Redstone Ave. then taking Physician's Drive to the dead end.

APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES:  Latitude 30.73347°
                                                                          Longitude -86.58666°

PROJECT PURPOSE:

Basic: Transportation improvements.

Overall: Transportation improvements to reduce congestion on SR 85 through Crestview and increase roadway network capacity to accommodate existing and future traffic volumes.

EXISTING CONDITIONS: The wetland systems proposed for impacts consist of two separate stream systems. Juniper Creek has a canopy made up of primarily slash pine (Pinus elliottii), black titi (Cliftonia monophylla), tulip polar (Liriodendron tulipifera) and sweetbay magnolia (Magnolia virginiana). The ground cover is a mix of maiden cane (Panicum hemitomon) and ferns including Woodwardia spp. This is a mature, forested and braided stream system. The Williams Branch tributary has less mature canopy trees consisting primarily of slash pine and sweetbay. There is more disturbance in this small stream system as a result of nearby development and the adjacent spray field. The area surrounding the western project area consists of platted residential lots and wastewater treatment facilities. The area surrounding the eastern project area is undeveloped with mixed forested/shrub wetlands and streams, and uplands surrounding.

PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks authorization to discharge fill material into 5.911 acres of waters of the United States in order to construct a new two-lane roadway from the Antioch Road/Arena Road intersection to Physician's Drive, a distance of approximately 2.2 miles. The project is split into two sections of roadway and utilizes part of the Crestview Bypass Phase V project as the connection. There are two typical sections for this project, a rural and an urban. Both typicals include one 11-foot lane in each direction. The rural typical provides a 5-foot paved shoulder (8-foot total shoulder) and a 10-foot multi-use path. Stormwater conveyance is handled through open ditches to stormwater management facilities. The urban typical section provides a 4-foot bike lane on each side. A 10-foot sidewalk is also provided on one side. Four new stormwater ponds are proposed and one existing stormwater pond would be re-graded due to impacts from the proposed alignment.

The roadway is defined as a Minor Arterial Rd. and per the City of Crestview Land Development Code, "Access points onto or from is limited to every 250‐ft.”

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:

Avoidance and minimization of wetland impacts were considered in the selection of the preferred alternative. Through analysis of the evaluation criteria for each alternative, the selected preferred alternative was determined to be the Least Environmentally Damaging Practicable Alternative (LEDPA). Because complete avoidance was not considered a viable option, minimization was therefore pursued. Wetland impacts were minimized to the extent necessary to facilitate construction of the roadway. The primary method of minimization was the use of the minimal roadway typical section allowed by the safety standards. This included using minimal lane width, curb and gutter for drainage, 2 to 1 tie down slopes a and sidewalk/multi-use path only on one side of the roadway in the wetland areas.

COMPENSATORY MITIGATION – The applicant has offered the following compensatory mitigation plan to offset unavoidable functional loss to the aquatic environment:

To compensate for the direct and indirect impacts to the water of the United States, Okaloosa County would purchase 6.483 Forested credits from Gin Hole Mitigation Bank, when this mitigation bank is authorized to sell mitigation credits.

CULTURAL RESOURCES:

The Corps is aware of historic property/properties within or in close proximity of the permit area. The Corps will initiate consultation with the State Historic Preservation Office and those federally recognized tribes with concerns in Florida and the Permit Area, and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation as applicable pursuant to 33 CFR 325, Appendix C and Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act, by separate letter.

ENDANGERED SPECIES:

The Corps has determined the proposal may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect the eastern indigo snake (Drymarchon couperi). The Corps has determined the proposal would have no effect on any other listed threatened or endangered species or designated critical habitat.

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 5.911 acres of streams and forested wetlands hydrologically connected to tidal waters utilized by various life stages of shrimp, reef fish, red drum, and coastal migratory/pelagic fish. Our initial determination is that the proposed action would not have a substantial adverse impact on EFH or Federally-managed fisheries in the 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 the Corps.

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 Pensacola Permits Section, 41 N. Jefferson Street, Pensacola, FL 32502 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, Ed Sarfert, in writing at the Pensacola Permits Section, 41 N. Jefferson Street, Pensacola, FL 32502; by electronic mail at edward.p.sarfert@usace.army.mil; by facsimile transmission at (850)433-8160; or, by telephone at (850)439-9533.

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.