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) as described below:
APPLICANT: RIO South Dixie, LLC
8985 S.E. Bridge Road
Hobe Sound, Florida 33455
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The Rio Marine Village West Marina project would impact waters of the United States within the St. Lucie River (HUC 030902060200). The project is located at 1050 NE Dixie Highway within the St. Lucie River, Sections 33, Township 37 South, Range 41 East, Jensen Beach, Martin County, Florida.
Directions to the site are as follows: From U.S. Highway 1 in Stuart, travel north over the Roosevelt Bridge over the St. Lucie River. Turn right (east) on Northwest (NW) Wright Boulevard, then left (north) on NW Dixie Highway. Continue to 1050 NE Dixie Highway
PROJECT PURPOSE: Basic: Marina and boat storage. Overall: To redevelop an existing dilapidated marina basin for boat storage and water access. The project should be located within the Rio Community Redevelopment Area and designated State of Florida Opportunity Zone established with the Federal Jobs Act of 2017.
EXISTING CONDITIONS: The Rio South Dixie west marina basin was originally created and used as a boat sales center for Bertram Boats in the 1970’s. The marina is currently used for both dry and wet slip storage and as a boat maintenance facility. The facility also holds between 60-90 boats on trailers in the upland parking lot and uses a concrete boat ramp for embarkation and debarkation. All waterfront features show advanced signs of deterioration and are beyond the point of repair.
The existing entrance channel and boat basin include 1,577 linear feet of hardened shoreline, six (6) finger docks (in addition to multiple, miscellaneous partially demolished docks), a boat ramp, and two (2) travel lift piers. The existing concrete seawall is in a state of disrepair and has received approval for replacement under DEP SPGP # 43-0134260-006,007,008-EE.
The proposed Rio South Dixie west marina basin project is part of a larger redevelopment project for the greater Rio Neighborhood of Jensen Beach. The development has received prior approvals from local and county officials, and in May 2018, the Rio Neighborhood, comprising the Rio Community Redevelopment Area, was designated by the State of Florida as an Opportunity Zone. Opportunity Zones were established with the Federal Jobs Act of 2017. The project is expected to help increase the area’s overall economy, provide safer facilities for recreational and commercial boat operators navigating in and around the basins, and improve water quality by creating better flushing through the widening of the channel.
PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks authorization to renovate a marina to include drystack boat storage and staging docks (90 dry slips), construction of new fixed access fingers and boatlifts (15 wet slips), two floating staging docks, construction of new seawall to remove existing boat ramp, and relocation of the existing seawall to widen the entrance channel for safe operation within the existing marina basin. Specific work include:
- Removal of travel lift piers and boat ramp; construction of a 39-foot seawall across the existing boat ramp
- Widening of the existing entrance channel to allow for safer ingress and egress to the marina basin; 228 linear feet of the seawall along the eastern edge of the channel will be reconstructed eastward; 2,010 square feet (750 cubic yards) of upland sand and topsoil will be excavated
- Installation of 2,560 square feet of floating staging docks on the west side of the basin, to assist in the drystack forklift operation
- Construction of seven (7) 4’x40’ finger docks on the east side of the basin, along with 15 boatlifts
- Construction of an outdoor drystack with space for 90 dry slips on the upland west of the west seawall
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 proposed renovation and control measures have been planned and designed to avoid environmental impacts, and all works (pile driving and upland excavation) will maintain a substantial offset from any outside resources.
Where temporary construction impacts are unavoidable, every effort will be made to minimize impacts to water quality and aquatic resources. The works will be performed according to, and will comply with, all requirements and conditions of the permit. Turbidity barriers shall be installed and maintained at all locations where the possibility of transferring suspended solids into the receiving waterbody exists due to the permitted work.”
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION: The applicant has offered the following compensatory mitigation plan to offset unavoidable functional loss to the aquatic environment:
“Mitigation is not necessary for the scope of work proposed due to the lack of benthic resources found in the proposed project site.”
CULTURAL RESOURCES: The Corps has evaluated the undertaking for effects to historic properties as required under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act, and has followed the guidelines of 33 CFR Part 325, Appendix C. Due to the nature of the marina basin being man-made, the extensive work conducted historically over the action area, and limited nature and scope of the proposed work, there is little likelihood of impinging upon a historic property even if such properties were to be present within the affected area; therefore, the Corps has determined that the project would have No Potential to Cause Effects to Historic Properties.
ENDANGERED SPECIES: The Corps executed a Resources At Risk (RAR) evaluation for the area of the proposed project. The RAR indicated that the proposed project “may affect, not likely to adversely affect” the West Indian manatee (Trichechus manatus latirostris). Because these species are unlikely to be found in the vicinity of the Action Area, the Corps had determined that the proposed action will have “no effect” on the Piping plover (Charadrius melodus), Red-cockaded woodpecker (Picoides borealis), Everglade snail kite (Rostrhamus sociabilis plumbeus), Florida scrub-jay (Aphelocoma coerulescens), Audubon’s crested caracara (Caracara plancus audubonii), and Wood stork (Mycteria americana). The Corps herein requests U.S. Fish and Wildlife and National Marine Fisheries Service concurrence with this determination pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act.
Piping Plover: The proposed work occurs within the consultation area for the piping plover. Following the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) Programmatic Piping Plover Biological Opinion (May 22, 2013) guideline, no suitable habitat will be impacted by the proposed work therefore, the Corps determined the proposed project would have “no effect” on the species.
Red Cockaded Woodpecker: The proposed work occurs within the consultation area for the red-cockaded woodpecker. Following the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) South Florida Ecological Services Office Species Conservation Guidelines (July 12, 2004) Standard Local Operating Procedures for Endangered Species (SLOPES) guideline, no suitable habitat will be impacted by the proposed work therefore, the Corps determined the proposed project would have “no effect” on the species.
Everglade Snail Kite: The proposed work occurs within the consultation area for the snail kite. Suitable habitat is not present at the project site and following guidance of the South Florida Ecological Services Office DRAFT Snail Kite Survey Protocol (May 18, 2004). The Corps determined the proposed project would have “no effect” on the species.
Florida Scrub-Jay: The proposed work occurs within the consultation area for the scrub jay. Following the FWS South Florida Ecological Services Office Species Conservation Guidelines (May 28, 2004) Standard Local Operating Procedures for Endangered Species (SLOPES) guideline, no suitable habitat will be impacted by the proposed work therefore, the Corps determined the proposed project would have “no effect” on the species.
Audubon’s Crested Caracara: The proposed work occurs within the consultation area for the Audubon's Crested Caracara. Following the FWS Species Conservation Guidelines (November 4, 2003) Standard Local Operating Procedures for Endangered Species (SLOPES) guideline, no suitable habitat will be impacted by the proposed work therefore, the Corps determined the proposed project would have “no effect” on the species.
Wood Stork: The Corps completed an evaluation of the project based upon the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) South Florida Ecological Services Office (SFESO) Programmatic Concurrence Key for the Wood Stork in South Florida (January 2010). Use of the key resulted in the following sequential determination: A>B “no effect” as the project will not impact suitable foraging habitat (SFH). The Corps has determined that the activities authorized under this permit will have “no effect” on the species.
West Indian Manatee: The Corps has determined the proposed project “may affect, not likely to adversely affect” the West Indian Manatee, pursuant to review of the “State of Florida Effect Determination Key for the Manatee in Florida” (April 2013). Review of the Manatee key resulted in the following sequential determination: A>B>C>G>H>I>J>K>N>O>P “may affect, not likely to adversely affect”. The applicant agrees to follow the ‘Standard Manatee Conditions for In-Water Work (2011)’.
The Corps has determined the proposal would have no effect on any other listed threatened or endangered species or designated critical habitat.
ENDANGERED SPECIES NATIONAL MARINE FISHERIES SERVICE (NMFS): The Corps evaluated the proposed work utilizing NMFS’s Jacksonville District’s Programmatic Biological Opinion (JAXBO) dated 20 November 2017. The JAXBO analyzes the effects from 10 categories of minor in-water activities occurring in Florida and the U.S. Caribbean on sea turtles (loggerhead, leatherback, Kemp's ridley, hawksbill, and green); smalltooth sawfish; Nassau grouper; scalloped hammerhead shark, Johnson's seagrass; sturgeon (Gulf, shortnose, and Atlantic); corals (elkhorn, staghorn, boulder star, mountainous star, lobed star, rough cactus, and pillar); whales (North Atlantic right whale, sei, blue, fin, and sperm); and designated critical habitat for Johnson's seagrass; smalltooth sawfish; sturgeon (Gulf and Atlantic); sea turtles (green, hawksbill, leatherback, loggerhead); North Atlantic right whale; and elkhorn and staghorn corals in accordance with Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act.
Based on past permitting practices of the Corps and review of consultations with similar in-water construction activities, Project Design Criteria (PDCs) were identified in the JAXBO that typically have been applied to permitted in-water construction activities. These PDCs ensure effects of in-water construction activities are minimal in nature and do not result in adverse effects to listed species or to essential features of designated CH. For this application, the Corps conducted a project specific review to determine if all of the PDCs were met.
The Corps has determined that the project does not meet the requirements of JAXBO because it exceeds the limits of the following PDCs: A2.1.3 (number of slips for a marina). In consideration of the previous/current authorization, based on the project being outside of designated critical habitat for any listed species, and the applicant’s agreement to follow PDCs for JaxBO for In-Water Activities, specifically Activity 1 and Activity 2, the Standard Manatee Condition for In-Water Work, and the Sea Turtle and Small Tooth Sawfish Construction Conditions, the Corps has determined that the project “may affect but is not likely to adversely affect” swimming sea turtles, smalltooth sawfish, and North Atlantic right whale. The Corps will request 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. The project site does not contain EFH; therefore, our initial determination is that the proposed action would have no effect on EFH or Federally managed fisheries in the St Lucie 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.
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 15 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 John.M.Baehre@usace.army.mil 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.