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: Clay County Board of County Commissioners
Attention: Richard Smith
P.O. Box 1366
Green Cove Springs, Florida 32043
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect waters of the United States associated with Peters Creek. The project site is located between the First Coast Expressway (FCE) and County Road (CR) 315, Sections 31, 32, 35, and 36, Township 5 South, Ranges 25 and 26 East, Green Cove Springs, Clay County, Florida.
Directions to the site are as follows: From Jacksonville, take Highway US-17 south to CR 315 and head west on CR 315. Continue south on CR 315 and arrive at the project site. The roadway project extends from CR 315 to State Road (SR) 23/FCE.
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES: Latitude 30.020321°
Basic: The basic project purpose is linear transportation.
Overall: The overall project purpose is construction of a new roadway to provide an east-west transportation corridor between First Coast Expressway from the west (currently under construction) to Green Cove Springs to the East to improve transportation in northeastern Clay County.
EXISTING CONDITIONS: The wetland system consists of a freshwater system. The overall project area consists of 93.8 acres. The onsite vegetation consists of pasture grasses, longleaf pine and mixed wetland hardwood species, and xeric oak species. The existing area surrounding the project area consists of undeveloped areas comprised of cropland and pastures (FLUCCS 2110, 2130, 2150), planted pine and coniferous forest regeneration areas (FLUCCS 4430, FLUCCS 4410), longleaf pine/xeric oak habitat (FLUCCS 4120), scrub wetlands (FLUCCS 6310), mixed wetland hardwoods (FLUCCS 6170), and freshwater swamps and marshes (FLUCCS 6410, 6430).
PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks authorization to discharge 96,282-cubic-yards of clean fill material into 19.35 acres of waters of the United States (14.13 of palustrine forested wetlands and 5.22 acres of other waters of the U.S.) along a 3.31-mile corridor for the construction of a two-lane road. The proposed work would also result in secondary impacts to 43.42 acres of waters of the United States (41.17 acres of palustrine forested wetlands and 2.25 acres of palustrine emergent wetlands). The proposed work would consist of two 12-foot travel lanes (one in each direction), two 8-foot shoulders consisting of a 5-foot bike lane and 3-foot shoulder, a 10-foot shared use path on one side and 5-foot raised sidewalk on the other side, creation of stormwater management facilities within the right-of-way for water quality treatment and flow attenuation, and exits from the road along the route leading north and south into areas that are undeveloped. The proposed work would be designed to encompass all wetland impacts required for an ultimate four lane condition with respect to drainage and right-of-way; however, the roadway itself would only be constructed as two lanes initially. The proposed work would be a 5-year authorization. The widening to four lanes would not be anticipated prior to 2030. While offsite development adjacent to the road is anticipated in the future, there are no designs or plans for these developments currently available or submitted for permit review. The Corps is aware that the exits from the proposed road could cause additional wetland impacts; however, the Corps would evaluate those impacts individually upon such time that any future proposed work is submitted.
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:
“Efforts to eliminate and reduce wetland impacts were employed during project design as the selection location of the impacts will include the existing rights-of-way and parcels owned by the County.”
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION – The applicant has offered the following compensatory mitigation plan to offset unavoidable functional loss to the aquatic environment:
“Compensatory mitigation for direct (14.13-acres) and secondary (43.42-acres) wetland impacts within 300-feet of direct impacts will include the purchase of herbaceous and forested wetland credits from the regionally significant Town Branch Mitigation Bank to offset 9.49 units and 9.45 units of functional loss, respectively.
The Corps is aware of recorded historic resources within or adjacent to the permit area and is evaluating the undertaking for effects to historic properties as required under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act. This public notice serves to inform the public of the proposed undertaking and invites comments including those from local, State, and Federal government Agencies with respect to historic resources. Our final determination relative to historic resource impacts may be subject to additional coordination with the State Historic Preservation Officer, those federally recognized tribes with concerns in Florida and the Permit Area, and other interested parties.
The Corps has determined the proposal may affect the Eastern Indigo Snake (Drymarchon corais couperi). The Corps will request initiation of formal consultation with the United States 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. 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.
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.
COMMENTS regarding the potential authorization of the work proposed should be submitted in writing to the attention of the District Engineer through the Jacksonville Permits Section, 701 San Marco Boulevard, Jacksonville, Florida 32207 within 30 days from the date of this notice. Please note: due to COVID restrictions, comments sent via email to Terri.M.Mashour@usace.army.mil are preferred.
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, Terri M. Mashour, in writing at the Jacksonville Permits Section, 701 San Marco Boulevard, Jacksonville, Florida 32207; by electronic mail at Terri.M.Mashour@usace.army.mil; or, by telephone at (904) 570-4512.
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.
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.
WATER QUALITY CERTIFICATION: This public notice serves as the notification to the EPA pursuant to section 401(a)(2) of the Clean Water Act. Water Quality Certification may be required from the St. Johns River Water Management District.
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.