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) as described below:
APPLICANT: Matovina & Company, Inc.
Attn: Mr. Greg Matovina
12443 San Jose Boulevard
Jacksonville, Florida 32223
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect waters of the United States, including wetlands, associated with Lofton Creek. The project site is located at 86379 Pages Dairy Road in Section 51, Township 3 North, Range 27 East, Yulee, Nassau County, Florida.
Directions to the site are as follows: From Interstate-95 take Exit 373 and head east on Florida Highway A1A. Proceed until the intersection of Pages Dairy Road and turn left. Proceed until just before the crossing of Lofton Creek and the project site is on the left side of Pages Dairy Road.
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES: Latitude 30.643407°
Basic: The basic project purpose is residential development.
Overall: The overall project purpose is single-family residential development north of Pages Dairy Road to meet growing market demand in Yulee, Florida.
EXISTING CONDITIONS: The existing vegetative communities and land uses on 197.01-acre property have been characterized pursuant to the Florida Department of Transportation publication Florida Land Use, Cover and Forms Classification System (FLUCFCS).
A. Uplands 100.81
1. Improved Pasture (FLUCFCS 211) 44.53 acres - Most of the uplands had been managed for many decades as improved pasture. Currently only certain areas are still actively being managed as pasture while other areas have been allowed to become fallow. The areas of active pasture are vegetated with various pasture grasses such as bahia grass (Paspalum notatum) as well as a variety of early successional weed species such as Dutch white clover (Trifolium repens) and Spanish needles (Bidens pilosa).
2. Other Open Land (FLUCFCS 260) 27.07 acres - Most of the non-forested uplands may be characterized as other open land. Areas adjacent to Pages Dairy Road had been managed as a commercial plant nursery which has been abandoned. Some of the areas of improved pasture have also been allowed to go fallow. These areas are now vegetated with various early successional species such as blackberry (Rubus sp.), dogfennel (Eupatorium sp.), waxmyrtle (Morella cerifera), and saplings of various trees such as loblolly pine (Pinus taeda), sycamore (Platanus occidentalis) and Chinese tallow (Triadica sebifera).
3. Pine – Hardwood Forest (FLUCFCS 434) 18.20 acres - Most of the forested uplands bordering the wetlands have a canopy dominated by a mixture of pines and hardwoods including such species as loblolly pine, slash pine (Pinus elliottii), southern magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora), sycamore, Chinese tallow, sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua), water oak (Quercus nigra), laurel oak (Quercus laurifolia), and live oak (Quercus virginiana). Most of the mature pines have been timbered within the past 20 to 25 years.
4. Temperate Hardwoods (FLUCFCS 425) 5.49 acres - The property contains widely scattered areas of oak hammock. The dominant tree in these areas is live oak. These clumps of oaks may have originally been left to provide shade for the cattle.
5. Residential, Low Density (FLUCFCS 110) 5.52 acres - The property contains several areas that are currently or had previously been used for single family residential lots. These areas contain single family houses and adjacent areas of yard.
B. Wetlands and Other Surface Waters 96.20 acres
1. Stream and Lake Swamp (FLUCFCS 615) 51.75 acres - The eastern edge of the property is bordered for approximately 1.5 miles by Lofton Creek. The creek is bordered by a large expanse of bottomland swamp that is periodically inundated when Lofton Creek overflows its banks. The canopy in the swamp includes such species as bald cypress (Taxodium distichum), blackgum (Nyssa sylvatica var. biflora), Carolina ash (Fraxinus caroliniana), American elm (Ulmus americana), and red maple (Acer rubrum). The understory and ground cover vegetation are relatively open and include such species as buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis), royal fern (Osmunda regalis), iris (Iris sp.), Virginia willow (Itea virginica), and various sedges (Cyperus spp. and Carex spp.) and grasses (Chasmanthium sp. and Panicum spp.).
2. Inland Ponds and Sloughs (FLUCFCS 616) 22.97 acres - The deeper wetlands in the interior of the property may be characterized inland ponds and sloughs. The more isolated wetlands are commonly known as “ponds”, while the connected wetlands are commonly known as “sloughs”. The canopy in these areas is dominated by such species as pond cypress (Taxodium ascendens), blackgum, loblolly bay (Gordonia lasianthus), and sweet bay (Magnolia virginiana). The understory and ground cover vegetation includes such species as Virginia chain fern (Woodwardia virginica), cinnamon fern (Osmunda cinnamomea), fetterbush (Lyonia lucida), and sphagnum moss (Sphagnum sp.).
3. Wetland Forested Mixed (FLUCFCS 630) 15.75 acres - The upper edges of some of the wetlands onsite comprise seepage slope wetlands that have a seasonal high-water table at or near the surface but do not contain standing water. The canopy in these areas comprises a mixture of trees including slash pine, sweetgum, red maple, loblolly bay, and Chinese tallow. The understory and ground cover vegetation includes such species as waxmyrtle, netted chain fern (Woodwardia areolata), and cinnamon fern.
4. Chinese Tallow (FLUCFCS 619) 0.59 acre - The isolated wetland located near the northwest corner of the property has a canopy comprised almost completely by Chinese tallow.
5. Wet Pasture (FLUCFCS 640) 4.07 acres - Portions of the pasture are wetland due to a high-water table. The vegetation in these areas includes such species as spike rush (Eleocharis spp.), dollarweed (Hydrocotyle sp.) and Asian coinwort (Centella asiatica).
6. Ponds (FLUCFCS 524) 0.76 acre - The property contains two man-made farm ponds on either side of the entrance drive.
7. Ditches (FLUCFCS 510) 0.31 acre - The property contains sections of man-made, upland-cut drainage ditches.
PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks authorization to discharge 27,040 cubic yards of clean fill material into 7.30 acres of palustrine-forested wetlands and 1.08 acres of other waters of the United States to facilitate the construction of a single-family residential development.
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:
“After all of the wetlands and surface waters onsite were flagged and surveyed, the jurisdiction lines were plotted on a current aerial photograph. The wetlands and surface waters were categorized according to type: wet pasture vs. floodplain swamp vs. farm ponds, etc. The applicant’s engineer prepared various site plans which avoided and minimized impacts as much as possible, particularly to the higher quality forested wetlands. Most of the impacts are to the upper edges of wetlands that have been heavily impacted by many years of cattle grazing. Many of these areas contain Chinese tallow (Triadica sebifera) which is a nuisance, invasive species.”
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION – The applicant has offered the following compensatory mitigation plan to offset unavoidable functional loss to the aquatic environment:
“Mitigation for proposed impacts will be provided through the purchase of credits from Longleaf Mitigation Bank.”
The Corps 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 Wood Stork (Mycteria americana) and the eastern indigo snake (Drymarchon corais couperi). The Corps used the programmatic consultation procedures associated with The Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Jacksonville Ecological Services Field Office and State of Florida Effect Determination Key for the Wood Stork in Central and North Peninsular Florida, September 2008 and the Corps utilized The Eastern Indigo Snake Programmatic Effect Determination Key, August 2013. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service previously indicated that they concur with determinations of may affect, not likely to adversely affect based on the key for Wood Storks; and, that no additional consultation is necessary.
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 been verified by Corps personnel.
COMMENTS and QUESTIONS regarding the potential authorization or the application of the work proposed should be submitted to the attention of the District Engineer or project manager, Mr. Brad Carey, by electronic mail at Brad.J.Carey@usace.army.mil; or, by telephone at 904-232-2405 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.
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 Florida Department of Environmental Protection and/or one of the state Water Management Districts.
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.