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:
APPLICANT: Range Water Development, LLC
Attn: Mr. Michael Oliver
5605 Glenridge Drive, Northeast, Suite 775
Atlanta, Georgia 30342
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect waters of the United States associated with Christopher Creek. The project site is located at 6756 St. Augustine Road, in Section 56, Township 3 South, Range 27 East, Jacksonville, Duval County, Florida.
Directions to the site are as follows: From Interstate-95 take Exit 346B and turn west onto University Boulevard. Proceed until the intersection of St. Augustine Road and turn right. Proceed until just before the intersection of Old Kings Road South and the project site is on the left.
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES: Latitude 30.253341°
Longitude - 81.623510°
Basic: The basic project purpose is residential development.
Overall: The overall project purpose is multi-family residential development within the San Jose Community of Jacksonville, Florida.
EXISTING CONDITIONS: The 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 26.01 acres
1. Low Density Residential (FLUCFCS 110) 2.63 acres - The northwest corner of the property contains two single family houses.
2. Professional Services (FLUCFCS 143) 0.71-acre - Immediately east of the southern house is a one-story office building and parking lot.
3. Other Open Land (FLUCFCS 260) 3.13 acres - Portions of the property are classified as other open land. These areas either contain various buildings that had been used when the land was managed for agriculture or comprise fields that are regularly mown.
4. Hardwood – Conifer Mixed (FLUCFCS 434) 11.15 acres - The property contains numerous areas that have reforested with various hardwoods mixed with pines. The canopy includes such species as live oak (Quercus virginiana), laurel oak (Q. laurifolia), water oak (Q. nigra), sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua), southern magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora), camphor (Cinnamomum camphora), Chinese tallow (Triadica sebifera), loblolly pine (Pinus taeda), and slash pine (P. elliottii). The understory and ground cover vegetation includes such plants as saplings of the canopy species, muscadine grape (Vitis rotundifolia), greenbriar (Smilax sp.), and bracken fern (Pteridium aquilinum). In some areas the previous owners had planted eastern cottonwood (Populus deltoides) for landscaping and shade trees for the cattle. These trees are now mature.
5. Pine Plantation (FLUCFCS 441) 8.03 acres - Most of the original improved pasture was planted as pine plantation. The canopy comprises rows of even-aged loblolly pine along with naturally occurring hardwoods such as red maple (Acer rubrum) and sweetgum. The ground cover includes such species as dogfennel (Eupatorium sp.), broomsedge (Andropogon virginicus), bahia grass (Paspalum notatum), and St. Augustine grass (Stenotaphrum secundatum).
6. Roads (FLUCFCS 814) 0.36-acre - The northeast corner of the property contains a section of paved road that is used to access the adjacent assisted living facility.
B. Wetlands and Other Surface Waters 3.34 acres
1. Wet Pine Plantation (FLUCFCS 441W) 1.15 acres - The eastern half of the property contains two areas of wet pine plantation. The canopy in these areas comprises rows of even-aged loblolly pine mixed with naturally occurring hardwoods such as red maple and sweetgum. The ground cover vegetation includes such species as St. Augustine grass, dollarweed (Hydrocotyle sp.), Asian coinwort (Centella asiatica), smartweed (Polygonum sp.), and rush (Juncus sp.). These areas are isolated, slightly depressed areas that have a seasonal high-water table at or very close to the ground surface. Immediately following periods of prolonged, heavy rains, these areas may hold puddled water. The underlying soil appears to be old fill material that contains fine material (loam and clay).
2. Wetland Forested Mixed (FLUCFCS 630) 0.83-acre - The property contains six relatively small areas of forested wetland that border the wetland-cut ditch. Five of these six wetlands comprise small areas of seepage slope with a canopy dominated by such species as blackgum (Nyssa sylvatica var. biflora), sweetgum, sweetbay (Magnolia virginiana), and laurel oak. These five areas have a seasonal high-water table at or near the ground surface but do not hold standing water as they slope downhill to the adjacent ditch. One wetland is a shallow depressional area that will periodically hold shallow standing water. The canopy in this area includes many Chinese tallow as well as scattered pond cypress (Taxodium ascendens), blackgum and red maple. This area drains into the ditch and is, therefore, normally dry.
3. Wetland-Cut Ditch (FLUCFCS 510 W-Cut) 0.71-acre - The U.S. Geological Topographic quadrangle map for this area depicts the upper end of Christopher Creek extending into the property. This section of creek was channelized many decades ago when the property was used for raising cattle. Over 900 feet of this ditched creek located immediately downstream of the property (to the west) was culverted years ago and reemerges just north of the intersection of Dupont Avenue and San Sebastian Avenue. The western section of the onsite wetland-cut ditch (approximately 300 feet in length) is incised approximately 4 to 5 feet below the grade of the adjacent land. The invert elevation of the culvert under St. Augustine Road at the eastern end is +6.97 feet, which is 3 feet lower than the bottom of the section of ditch immediately upstream. Farther east and southeast into the property, the wetland-cut ditch is not as incised into the property and averages 1 to 2 feet below the grade of the adjacent land. At the eastern, upstream end of the ditch, the bottom elevation is +18.5 feet. So,
the total drop along this ditch is approximately 11.5 feet which allows the water to drain offsite relatively quickly. There are four culverted road crossings over this ditch. The banks and bottom of the ditch have been stabilized in places over the years with concrete rubble to prevent erosion. The banks of the ditch are vegetated with wetland trees such as blackgum and red maple.
4. Upland-Cut Ditches (FLUCFCS 510 U-Cut) 0.65-acre - There are seven sections of upland-cut, man-made ditches. Some of these ditches are remnants of old field ditches. Other ditches are closer to being shallow grassy swales. Vegetation in the ditches includes such species as alligator weed (Alternanthera philoxeroides), torpedo grass (Panicum repens) and beakrush (Rhynchospora spp.).
PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks authorization to discharge clean fill material into 1.98 acres of freshwater-forested wetlands, 0.71-acre of relatively permanent waterways, and 0.65-acre of ditches cut from uplands.
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 wetlands and other surface waters could not be avoided and still accomplish project design. Impact areas had been significantly altered from prior use of the property as a commercial dairy since at least 1943.”
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION – The applicant has offered the following compensatory mitigation plan to offset unavoidable functional loss to the aquatic environment:
“Mitigation will be accomplished through the purchase of credit from a permitted mitigation bank.”
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.
Option A: The Corps has determined the proposed project may affect but is not likely to adversely affect the Wood Stork (Mycteria americana) and the eastern indigo snake (Drymarchon corais couperi). 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.
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 St. Johns River. 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.
SECTION 408: The applicant will not require permission under Section 14 of the Rivers and Harbors Act (33 USC 408) because the activity, in whole or in part, would not alter, occupy, or use a Corps Civil Works project.
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.
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.
COMMENTS and QUESTIONS concerning this application should be directed to the project manager, Mr. Brad Carey, in writing by electronic mail at Brad.J.Carey@usace.army.mil; or, by telephone at (904) 232-2405 with 21 days of this notice.
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.
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.