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:
The Bay Park Conservancy
655 North Tamiami Trail
Sarasota, FL 34236
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project is located in Sarasota Bay near 655 North Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, Sarasota County, Florida 34236. The project site is proposed directly south of the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, in/over Sarasota Bay and a tidal canal.
Directions to the site are as follows: From I-75 N, take the FL-780/Fruitville Rd exit (Exit 210) toward Sarasota. Keep left to take the ramp towards Sarasota. Turn left onto Fruitville Rd/FL-780. Turn right onto Tamiami Trail/North Tamiami Trail/US-41 N/FL-45. Turn left onto Boulevard of the Arts. Pass Van Wezel Way and turn right into the parking lot.
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES:
Basic: Water access.
Overall: Access to Sarasota Bay for passive public recreation and education.
EXISTING CONDITIONS: The proposal is located in and over Sarasota Bay and an existing tidal canal. The proposed structure is located in the vicinity of submerged aquatic vegetation (seagrass and macroalgae beds), mangrove and hard bottom habitat as shown on the attached figures.
PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks authorization to construct a 21,290 square foot circular pier consisting of a main boardwalk platform with two canopied sections, two transition platforms, four connector bridges and a floating platform attached with two gangways.
The pier is proposed for passive public use and education. The inner portion of the boardwalk and the floating platform are intended for use as an environmental classroom for seagrass education.
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 pier is proposed for passive public use and education. Motorized vessel mooring and fishing will be prohibited.
• The pier design has been minimized to reduce area over submerged aquatic vegetation and hard bottom habitat.
• The entire structure (except for the floating platform) will be elevated to 8 feet above mean high water to allow light under the structure.
• The four connector bridges will contain grated decking allowing 44% light penetration.
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION – The applicant has offered the following compensatory mitigation plan to offset unavoidable functional loss to the aquatic environment:
Environmental enhancement and mitigative measures are included with the proposal and include the following:
• Seagrass propellor scar restoration consisting of the placement of sediment in propellor scars and blowouts, the installation of bird stakes, and installation of shoal markers.
• Creation of oyster habitat consisting of the placement of approximately 1,688 square feet (0.04 acre) of bagged and loose oyster shells/bags.
• Clam shell seeding consisting of the placement of native clams within a 25,833 square foot (0.6 acre) area.
• Deployment of reef balls.
• Relocation of corals to be impacted by the proposed structure.
• The application states that 2.55 acres of mangrove fringe in the canal was recently enhanced, including exotic vegetation removal.
• A monitoring and maintenance plan is proposed to ensure the long-term viability of the mitigative measures.
• A pier management plan is proposed to provide for operation, use, management and maintenance of the pier.
Final mitigative requirements and quantifications will be determined after agency coordination and a final determination on required avoidance and minimization measures.
CULTURAL RESOURCES: 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.
ENDANGERED SPECIES: The Corps has determined the proposed project may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect the West Indian manatee (Trichechus manatus). The Corps has concurrence with this determination pursuant to the Effect Determination Key for the Manatee, dated April 2013 (Manatee Key). Use of the Manatee Key resulted in the following sequential determination: A > B > C > G > N > O > P5 > may affect, not likely to adversely affect. This determination is partially based on the applicant following the standard manatee construction conditions.
The Corps has determined the proposed project may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta), Kemp’s ridley sea turtles (Lepidochelys kempii), green sea turtles (Chelonia mydas), hawksbill sea turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata), leatherback sea turtles (Dermochelys coriacea), smalltooth sawfish (Pristis pectinata) and giant manta rays (Manta birostris). The Corps evaluated the proposed work utilizing the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS)—Jacksonville District’s Programmatic Biological Opinion (JaxBO) dated November 20, 2017. The Corps will request confirmation of coverage under the JaxBO pursuant to the JaxBO superseding process.
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 be located over approximately 4220 square feet of submerged aquatic vegetation and 7445 square feet of hard bottom habitat. The walkway is proposed through mangrove fringe and is expected to result in trimming of 1,617 square feet of black, red and white mangroves. The project involves avoidance, minimization and mitigative measures as described above. Our initial determination is that the proposed action would not have a substantial adverse impact on EFH or Federally managed fisheries in Sarasota Bay. 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.
NAVIGATION: The waterward edge of the proposed structure is more than 1,000 feet away from the near bottom edge of the New Pass Channel, and more than 3,000 feet away from the near bottom edge of the Intracoastal Waterway Federal channel.
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 Tampa Permits Section, 10117 Princess Palm Ave, Suite 120, Tampa, Florida 33610, or by electronic mail to Jessica.L.Cordwell@usace.army.mil 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, Jessica Cordwell, in writing at the Tampa Permits Section, 10117 Princess Palm Ave, Suite 120, Tampa, Florida 33610; by electronic mail at Jessica.L.Cordwell@usace.army.mil; or by telephone at (813)769-7067.
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 Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD). The project is currently under review at the SWFWMD under application number 833583.
COASTAL ZONE MANAGEMENT CONSISTENCY: In Florida, the State approval constitutes compliance with the approved 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.