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SAJ-2018-02643 (JMB)

Published April 4, 2022
Expiration date: 5/1/2022

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 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 (33 U.S.C. §403) and Section 404 of the Clean Water Act (33 U.S.C. § 1344) as described below:

APPLICANT: Amick Holdings, LLC
                      c/o Jeff Fuqua
                      401 Ferguson Drive
                      Orlando, Florida 32805

WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The Fontana Lakes project would impact waters of the United States within the Lake Tohopekaliga (HUC 030901010400). The project is located on Friars Cove Road, in Section 27, 28, 33, 34, Township 26 South, Range 30 East, St. Cloud, Osceola County, Florida.

Directions to the site are as follows: Take SR528 west to Florida's Turnpike south. Take exit 240 for Old Canoe Creek Road south to Canoe Creek Road South. Take Friars Cove Road west to the subject property.

Latitude 28.182726°
Longitude -81.313376°


Basic: The basic project purpose is Mixed-use development with access to navigable waters.

Overall: The overall project purpose is to develop a multi-phase, mixed-use development with open space, and recreational access to Lake Tohopekaliga that complies with the Osceola County East of Lake Toho Comprehensive Plan

EXISTING CONDITIONS: The Fontana Lakes project site currently supports eleven (11) land use types/vegetative communities. These land use types/vegetative communities were identified utilizing the Florida Land Use, Cover and Forms Classification System, Level III (FLUCFCS, FDOT, January 2004):

211 Improved Pastures - The majority of the site consists of improved pasture that is currently being utilized by both cattle and horses. This area contains fences, gates, stables, and associated auxiliary buildings. This land use/vegetative community would be classified as Improved Pastures (211), per the FLUCFCS. This pasture community consists of a mixture of bahiagrass (Paspalum notatum), carpet grass (Axonopus fissifolius), dog fennel (Eupatorium capillifolium), tropical soda apple (Solanum viarum), common ragweed (Ambrosia artemisiifolia), common sow thistle (Sonchus oleraceus), Virginia pepperweed (Lepidium virginicum), Indian hemp (Sida rhombifolia), wax myrtle (Myrica cerifera), flat sedge (Cyperus odoratus), Mexican clover (Richardia brasiliensis), caesarweed (Urena lobata), lantana (Lantana camara), muscadine vine (Vitis rotundifolia), lyre-leaved sage (Salvia lyrata), blackberry (Rubus pensilvanicus), Florida pusley (Richardia scabra), and beggar ticks (Bidens alba); with widely scattered slash pine (Pinus elliottii), cabbage palm (Sabal palmetto), live oak (Quercus virginiana), laurel oak (Quercus laurifolia), Chinese tallow (Sapium sebiferum), longleaf pine (Pinus palustris), camphortree (Cinnamomum camphora), and Brazilian pepper (Schinus terebinthifolia).

224 Abandoned Citrus Groves - An area of abandoned citrus groves is present within the north-central portion of the project site. This land use/vegetative community would be classified as Abandoned Citrus Groves (224), per the FLUCFCS. Vegetative species present within this area include remnant citrus trees (Citrus sp.), American pokeweed (Phytolacca americana), American beautyberry (Callicarpa americana), caesarweed (Urena lobata), dog fennel (Eupatorium capillifolium), Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia), common ragweed (Ambrosia artemisiifolia), Mexican clover (Richardia brasiliensis), lantana (Lantana camara), Florida crabgrass (Digitaria floridana), blackberry (Rubus pensilvanicus), natal grass (Melinis repens), muscadine grape (Vitis rotundifolia), guineagrass (Panicum maximum), and begger ticks (Bidens alba).

427 Live Oak - Two (2) areas of a live oak (Quercus virginiana) dominated forest community exist within the central portion of the site. This land use/vegetative community would be classified as Live Oak (427), per the FLUCFCS. Other vegetative species present include laurel oak (Quercus laurifolia), dog fennel (Eupatorium capillifolium), common ragweed (Ambrosia artemisiifolia), blackberry (Rubus pensilvanicus), tropical soda apple (Solanum viarum), common sow thistle (Sonchus oleraceus), bahia grass (Paspalum notatum), greenbrier (Smilax sp.), and caesarweed.

438 Mixed Hardwoods - A small portion of mixed hardwoods is present in the northwest corner of the site. This land use/vegetative community would be classified as Mixed Hardwoods (438), per the FLUCFCS. Vegetative species identified within this community include a canopy of Chinese tallow (Sapium sebiferum), common persimon (Diospyros virginiana), laurel oak (Quercus laurifolia), black cherry (Prunus Serotina), and camphor tree (Cinnamomum camphora), with widely scattered live oak (Quercus virginiana), red maple (Acer rubrum), cabbage palm (Sabal palmetto), and dahoon holly (Ilex cassine); with a subcanopy of groundsel tree (Baccharis halimifolia), American beautyberry (Callicarpa americana), and an understory of muscadine grape (Vitis rotundifolia), Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia), lantana (Lantana camara), broomsedge (Andropogon sp.), coinwort (Centella asiatica), dog fennel (Eupatorium capillifolium), caesarweed (Urena lobata), tropical soda apple (Solanum viarum), blackberry (Rubus pensilvanicus), common ragweed (Ambrosia artemisiifolia), and St. John’s wort (Hypericum sp.).

510 Streams and Waterways - The Gator Bay Slough Canal and several ditches/swales exist throughout the property. These land uses/vegetative communities would be classified as Streams and Waterways (510), per the FLUCFCS. The Gator Bay Slough Canal is located in the northwest corner of the site and extends from the western boundary to the northern boundary, continuing off-site to the northeast. A second large canal is present along the western boundary of the site but lies outside of the property boundaries. Vegetative species present within the canal, ditches, and swales includes pickerelweed (Pontederia cordata), alligator weed (Alternanthera philoxeroides), spatterdock (Nuphar advena), soft rush (Juncus effusus), smartweed (Polygonum punctatum), spikerush (Eleocharis sp.), marsh pennywort (Hydrocotyle umbellata), watergrass (Luziola sp.), lemon bacopa (Bacopa caroliniana), and torpedo grass (Panicum repens); with some wax myrtle (Myrica cerifera) and Brazilian pepper (Schinus terebinthifolia) present along the top of bank.

521 Lakes larger than 500 acres - Within the southwest corner of the site is the northern shoreline of the Friar’s Cove portion of Lake Tohopekaliga. This land use/vegetative community would be classified as Lakes larger than 500 acres (521), per the FLUCFCS. Only a small portion of the shoreline of this 18,800+ acre lake falls within the site. Some of the vegetative species observed along the lake shoreline include pickerelweed (Pontederia cordata), arrowhead (Sagittaria lancifolia), cuban bulrush (Oxycaryum cubense), cattail (Typha latifolia), soft rush (Juncus effusus), smartweed (Polygonum punctatum), marsh pennywort (Hydrocotyle umbellata), watergrass (Luziola sp.), coinwort (Centella asiatica), spikerush (Eleocharis sp.), torpedo grass (Panicum repens), and maidencane (Panicum hemitomon).

534 Reservoirs less than 10 acres - Two (2) small cattle ponds exist within the central portion of the project site. This land use/vegetative community would be classified as Reservoirs less than 10 acres (534), per the FLUCFCS. Vegetation present around the littoral zone of the ponds include soft rush (Juncus effusus), dotted smartweed (Polygonum punctatum), spikerush (Eleocharis sp.), marsh pennywort (Hydrocotyle umbellata), watergrass (Luziola sp.), lemon bacopa (Bacopa caroliniana), torpedo grass (Panicum repens). The ponds have an open water center with fragrant waterlilies (Nymphaea odorata) and spatter-dock (Nuphar sp.). Scattered wax myrtle (Myrica cerifera), and Brazilian pepper (Schinus terebinthifolia) are present along the top of

619 Exotic Wetland Hardwoods - A small area of a mostly exotic wetland hardwoods community is present in the northwest corner of the site. This land use/vegetative community would be classified as Exotic Wetland Hardwoods (619), per the FLUCFCS. Vegetation observed within this community consists of mostly Chinese tallow (Sapium sebiferum), wax myrtle (Myrica cerifera), with some widely scattered red maple (Acer rubrum), dahoon holly (Ilex cassine), cypress (Taxodium sp.), groundsel tree (Baccharis halimifolia), and common persimmon (Diospyros virginiana). Ground cover species present include blackberry (Rubus pensilvanicus), St. John’s wort (Hypericum sp.), broomsedge (Andropogon sp.), royal fern (Osmunda regalis), cinnamon fern (Osmunda cinnamomea), and coinwort (Centella asiatica).

630 Wetland Forested Mixed – A small portion of a mixed forested wetland community exists in the northeast corner of the site. This land use/vegetative community would be classified as Wetland Forested Mixed (630), per the FLUCFCS. Vegetative species observed within this community include a canopy of scattered cypress (Taxodium sp.), black gum (Nyssa sylvatica), and Chinese tallow (Sapium sebiferum), with an understory of soft rush (Juncus effusus), blackberry (Rubus pensilvanicus), bahia grass (Paspalum notatum), and shield fern (Thelypteris sp.).

640 Vegetated Non-Forested Wetlands - Several vegetated non-forested wetlands exist throughout the site. These land uses/vegetative communities would be classified as Vegetated Non-Forested Wetland (640), per the FLUCFCS. Vegetative species observed within these wetlands include spikerush (Eleocharis sp.), marsh pennywort (Hydrocotyle umbellata), watergrass (Luziola sp.), dotted smartweed (Polygonum punctatum), blackberry (Rubus pensilvanicus), muscadine vine (Vitis rotundifolia), tropical soda apple (Solanum viarum), rattlebox (Sesbania punicea), carpet grass (Axonopus sp.), nutsedge (Cyperus sp.), and dog fennel (Eupatorium capillifolium); with scattered Chinese tallow (Sapium sebiferum) and wax myrtle (Myrica cerifera). The overall species composition varies slightly from wetland to wetland.

641 Freshwater Marshes - A number of shallow freshwater marshes are present throughout the site. These land uses/vegetative communities would be classified as Freshwater Marshes (641), per the FLUCFCS. Existing vegetation observed within these marshes includes a groundcover of carpet grass (Axonopus sp.), blackberry (Rubus pensilvanicus), alligator weed (Alternanthera philoxeroides), soft rush (Juncus effusus), coinwort (Centella asiatica), pickerelweed (Pontederia cordata), spikerush (Eleocharis sp.), marsh pennywort (Hydrocotyle umbellata), and shield fern (Thelypteris kunthii); with a subcanopy of Brazilian pepper (Schinus terebinthifolia) and Carolina willow (Salix caroliniana); and a widely scattered canopy of loblolly bay (Gordonia lasianthus), red bay (Persea borbonia), Chinese tallow (Sapium sebiferum), black
gum (Nyssa sylvatica), camphor trees (Cinnamomum camphora), and red maple (Acer rubrum). The overall species composition varies slightly from wetland to wetland.

PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks authorization to dredge/discharge approximately 41.51 acres of clean fill into wetlands of the United States for the construction of a 677.00 acre mixed-use residential and commercial development consisting of single-family and multi-family residential units, with interspersed neighborhood and commercial centers, a school site, and a master stormwater management system. The stormwater system includes 14 wet detention ponds (totaling 106.4 acres) for the required water quality treatment. It should be noted that these wetlands have been historically disturbed by the property's ongoing agricultural operations. Currently, these systems are utilized by cattle.

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:

“In considering alternative site plans with respect to the elimination or reduction of wetland/surface water impacts, the applicant has implemented practicable design modifications, supplemented with mitigation that offers regional ecological value and provides greater long-term value than the remnant, agriculturally disturbed on-site wetlands and surface waters to be adversely affected by the Fontana Lakes project site. The salient avoidance and minimization points include the following:

1. The applicant considered three (3) alternative sites, none of which proved to be practicable alternatives.
2. The project design seeks to avoid the 100-year floodplain associated with Lake Tohopekaliga and provides ±154-acre-ft of onsite floodplain mitigation.
3. The project design includes ±106.4-acres of stormwater ponds.
4. The project avoids and minimizes impacts to wetlands and surface waters within the floodplain of Lake Tohopekaliga; these wetlands have the greatest wetland functions.
5. The need for Cross Prairie Parkway and Tohoqua Parkway West road alignments to come from the north and connect to Friar’s Cove Road resulted in further design constraints precluding additional wetland avoidance and minimization.

Avoidance - The applicant provided an alternatives analysis that considered three (3) alternative sites. The review determined there are no other sites that are less environmentally damaging and practicable than the proposed site. The applicant also states that the proposed site plan is necessary to meet local requirements. The Corps has not completed its evaluation of the alternatives analysis at this time and additional information will be provided for the Corps’ review.”

Alternative Road Alignments - Complexities regarding the full range of alternatives for the Cross Prairie Parkway and Tohoqua Parkway West road alignments, were previously considered under the 404(b)(1) Guidelines and the National Environmental Policy Act. Typically, USACE is able to permit road projects as long as they constitute a single and complete project, which includes having the road begin and end at logical termini (e.g., begin and end at existing crossroads) within project boundaries.”

Osceola County requires all developments within the East of Lake Toho plan area to consider future interconnectivity. The roadways required for this interconnectivity are depicted on the site plan. The Corps published a Public Notice on 5 January 2017 under SAJ-2016-02554 (SP-JSC) in order to seek public comment on these proposed roadways.

Minimization - The wetlands proposed for impact are highly degraded hydrologically, supporting minimal community structure, and provide negligible habitat for wetland dependent species. As such, preservation of the onsite wetlands would likely not provide an ecologically viable community. The low-quality systems provide little functional value with the surrounding uplands, and will eventually suffer a significant loss of function due to their isolation from hydrologic inputs, wildlife corridors, and viable seed sources. This loss of function would go unmitigated, so long as no fill was proposed in these preserved wetland systems. As such, these systems can be eliminated and replaced off-site with higher quality herbaceous systems and the perpetual preservation of beneficial wetlands within the locality of the project. Mitigation for the wetland and other surface water impacts will be provided. To mitigate for the wetland and other surface water impacts, the applicant will purchase herbaceous and / or forested mitigation bank credits from an appropriate mitigation bank located within the same basin as the impacts.

As evidenced by Bio-Tech Consulting, Inc (BTC) staff while onsite, the majority of the wetland/surface water systems located within the limits of the project site consist of low-quality, herbaceous vegetative communities that have been continuously impacted by the site’s historic agricultural operations and maintenance activities. Avoidance and minimization measures have been taken where possible. However, the ±106.4-acres of required stormwater ponds, avoidance of both the Lake Tohopekaliga 100-year floodplain and floodplain wetland impacts, combined with the preservation of 38.72-acres of wetlands and 9.36-acres of surface water made avoidance and minimization of additional wetland impacts impracticable.”

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

“The compensatory mitigation for the proposed wetland impacts will be provided through the purchase of federal mitigation bank credits. The proposed wetland impacts were evaluated using WRAP, which is consistent with the wetland functional assessment method used by federal mitigation banks in this watershed. The project proposes direct wetland impacts to A total of 41.51-acres of direct wetland impacts are proposed to WoTUS (28.35-acres wetlands and 13.16-acres surface waters). The proposed direct wetland impacts will result in the estimated loss of 18 functional capacity debits. The functional loss of the wetlands and associated wildlife habitat will be mitigated by purchasing 18 federal credits from a federally approved Mitigation Bank, with a service area that includes the project area.

No permittee responsible compensatory mitigation credit is requested for the 38.72-acres of wetland and 9.36-acres of surface water preservation.”


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 proposed project may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect, the Red-cockaded Woodpecker (Picoides borealis), Florida Grasshopper Sparrow (Ammodramus savannarum floridanus), Florida Bonneted Bat (Eumops floridanus), Florida Scrub Jay (Aphelocoma coerulescens), Wood Stork (Mycteria americana), and Eastern Indigo Snake (Drymarchon corais couperi), and/or their designated critical habitats. This determination is based on Standard Local Operating Procedures for Endangered Species (SLOPES) guidelines.

The Corps has determined the proposed project will have no effect on the Everglades Snail Kite (Rostrhamus sociabilis plumbeus) and Audubon's Crested Caracara (Caracara cheriway). This determination is based on the results of species-specific surveys conducted by the Applicant.

The Corps has determined the proposed project may affect the Eastern Indigo Snake (Drymarchon corais couperi). This determination is based on the results of utilizing the USFWS Eastern Indigo Snake Programmatic Effect Determination Key (2013), A>B>C “May Affect”, as the project will impact more than 25 acres of eastern indigo snake habitat.

The Corps will request U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service concurrence with these determinations, 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. The proposed work would impact approximately 41.51 acres of forested and non-forested wetlands in addition to surface waters utilized by various life stages of species. Our initial determination is that the proposed action would not have no effect on EFH or Federally managed fisheries within the Lake Tohopekaliga basin. The Corps has determined that the proposed action would not have no effect on EFH or Federally managed fisheries within the Lake Tohopekaliga basin and no further coordination is required.

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 Corps has verified the extent of Federal jurisdiction.

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 Cocoa Permits Section, 400 High Point Drive, Cocoa, Florida 32926 within 30 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, John Baehre, in writing at the Cocoa Permits Section, 400 High Point Drive, Cocoa, Florida 32926, by electronic mail at or by telephone at (321)504-3771 extension 13.

IMPACT ON NATURAL RESOURCES: Preliminary review of this application indicates that an Environmental Impact Statement will not be required. 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. By means of this notice, we are soliciting comments on the potential effects of the project on threatened or endangered species or their habitat.

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 of 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 decision, comments are used to assess impacts on endangered species, historic properties, water quality, general environmental effects, and the other public interest factors listed above. Comments are used in the preparation of an Environmental Assessment and/or an Environmental Impact Statement pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act 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.