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: Russell Cox
605 12th Avenue North
Jacksonville Beach, Florida 32250
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect waters of the United States associated with the Tolomato River. The project site is located at 3039 Fourth Street (St. Johns County Property Appraiser – Parcel Identification Number 1462600150), in Section 5, Township 7 South, Range 30 East, St. Augustine, St. Johns County, Florida.
Directions to the site are as follows: To access the site from downtown Jacksonville, take I-95 South for 42 miles and exit onto FL-16 East. Take FL-16 East and turn right onto North Ponce De Leon Boulevard. Then turn left onto West San Carlos Avenue and continue onto A1A North. Continue on A1A North over the Vilano Bridge and turn left onto A1A North. Go approximately 0.4 miles and turn left onto Meadow Avenue. Then turn left onto Fourth Street to the site. The property is located at the corner of Fourth Street and Surfside Avenue.
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES: Latitude 29.922348°
Basic: The basic project purpose is to construct a private residential home and dock.
Overall: The overall project purpose is to construct a private residential home and dock on Fourth Street, St. Augustine adjacent to the Tolomato River.
The project is located within an estuarine intertidal system known as the Tolomato River[BMMCUC(1] . The project site is surrounded by residential parcels, some of which have shared private single-family docks. The 5 adjoining properties to the north were constructed to be pile-supported homes with a project design that would not include permanent fill, temporary fill, construction fill, nor fill for piling footers. The subject property is 0.32 acres with 0.31 acres of wetlands on the property. The topography of the site slopes moderately from the uplands on the eastern portion of the site towards the Tolomato River on the western portion of the site. The elevations of the property range from approximately +5 feet to -3 feet NGVD. Elevations in the wetlands are approximately 4 to 8 feet lower than the adjacent uplands. The site generally drains towards the Tolomato River to the west.
Soils: The Soil Survey of St. Johns County, Florida indicates the following soil types within the property:
Pellicer silty clay loam, frequently flooded (24). Pellicer silty clay loam, frequently flooded, is a very poorly drained, nearly level soil that is in low tidal marshes along stream estuaries near the Atlantic coast. This soil is flooded twice daily by normal high tides. The water table fluctuates with the tide. Typically, the surface layer is very dark brown silty clay loam about 10 inches thick. Between depths of 10 and 55 inches, the material is dark greenish gray clay loam.
Vegetative Communities: This site contains 2 generalized community types or land uses characterized by the Florida Land Use, Cover, and Forms Classification System (FLUCFCS).
Upland Communities (0.011 acres):
Undeveloped Land within urban areas (FLUCFCS 191) – This community is found along the eastern site boundary and near the center of the site. The vegetation in this community consisted of several sand live oak (Quercus geminata) in the subcanopy along the western site boundary, wax myrtle (Morella cerifera) in the shrub stratum, and beach sunflower (Helianthus deibilis), American beachgrass (Ammophila breviligulata), straw-colored flatsedge (Cyperus strigosus) and in the groundcover stratum. This community was dominated by amberique-bean (Strophostyles helvula) near the center of the site.
Wetland Communities (0.308 acres):
Saltwater Marshes (FLUCFCS 642) – This community is found throughout the site and is lacking a canopy stratum. The vegetation in the understory and groundcover of this community consisted predominately of smooth cordgrass (Spartina alterniflora), black needle rush (Juncus roemerianus), saltbush (Baccharis halimifolia), sea-oxeye daisy (Borrichia frutescens) and black mangroves (Avicennia germinans).
PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks authorization to construct a private residential single-family home and the construction of a 2,397-square-foot dock. The existing shared access pier of the dock between 3039 and 3041 Fourth Street residences is associated with prior Corps authorization SAJ-2007-02202 dated November 20, 2014. The applicant is proposing the construction of a covered boat slip with boat lift, a terminal platform, and a gangway leading to a floating platform. The private residential single-family home will be a pile supported home that would not include permanent fill, temporary fill, construction fill, or fill for piling footers. The proposed project will result in 0.05 acres of wetland impacts to the jurisdictional wetlands that would be beneath the pile supported residence.
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 single-family home will be pile-supported to minimize wetland impacts. In addition, the footprint of the proposed home has been placed to utilize as much uplands that the property has.
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION – The applicant has offered the following compensatory mitigation plan to offset unavoidable functional loss to the aquatic environment:
Upon agreement of the mitigation plan, the applicant would provide the Corps with a reservation of credit letter from an approved 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 West Indian manatee, Shortnose sturgeon, Atlantic sturgeon, Smalltooth sawfish, whales, sea turtles, Wood Stork, and Florida Scrub Jay.
a. West Indian manatee (Trichechus manatus): Since the proposal by the applicant is for in-water construction, potential impacts to the manatee were evaluated using The Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District, and the State of Florida Effect Determination Key for the Manatee in Florida, April 2013. Use of this key resulted in the sequential determination A-B-C-G-H-I-N-O-P4 – May affect, not likely to adversely affect. This determination is based on the applicant adhering to the Standard Manatee Conditions for In-Water Work, 2011. The FWS previously indicated that they concur with determinations of May affect, not likely to adversely affect based on the key for manatees; and, that no additional consultation is necessary.
Smalltooth sawfish, Atlantic sturgeon and shortnose sturgeon, hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata), leatherback turtle (Dermochelys coriacea), green turtle (Chelonia mydas), loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta), and Kemp’s ridley turtle (Lepidochelys kempii), and whales (North Atlantic right whale, sei, blue, fin, and sperm): The project site is just over 1.7 miles northwest of the St. Augustine Inlet at the Atlantic Ocean; therefore, the abovementioned species could be found on site. 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 are not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of listed species or adverse modification to designated CH. On 21 February 2018, NMFS listed the giant manta ray as threatened. On 5 November 2021, SAJ-RD provided NMFS PRD with a Section 7(a)(2) and 7(d) Endangered Species Act (ESA) analysis to verify that the activities covered in JAXBO are not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of the giant manta ray (Manta birostris). The Section 7(a)(2) and 7(d) ESA analysis validates that the Corps’ continued use of the JAXBO, while Section 7 ESA consultation is ongoing, remains compliant with the ESA’s requirements to avoid jeopardy and irreversible or irretrievable commitments of resources. The Corp is currently evaluating this project and will coordinate with National Marine Fisheries using JAXBO.
Florida Scrub Jay: The project site is within a consultation area identified by the Corps and the FWS for the Florida Scrub Jay (Aphelocoma coerulescens). Therefore, this species may utilize the project site. There is no designated critical habitat for the Florida Scrub Jay listed in the federal register (52 FR 20715-20719). However, information from the FWS indicates that the Florida Scrub Jay has extremely specific habitat requirements. It is endemic to peninsular Florida’s ancient dune ecosystem or scrubs, which occur on well drained to excessively well drained sandy soils. Relict oak-dominated scrub, or xeric oak scrub, is essential habitat to the Florida Scrub Jay. Optimal habitat incorporates four species of stunted, low growing oaks [sand live oak (Quercus geminata), Chapman oak (Quercus chapmanii), myrtle oak (Quercus myrtifolia), and scrub oak (Quercus inopina)] that are 1-3 meters high, interspersed with 10 to 50 percent non-vegetated sandy openings, with a sand pine (Pinus clausa) canopy of less than 20 percent. Therefore, Florida Scrub jay habitat is absent from the project site. In consideration of the lack of appropriate habitat at the site, the local abundance of foraging habitat, and the distance to the nearest colony, the Corps determined that the project would have no effect upon this species.
Wood Stork (Mycteria americana): The project site is approximately 2.8 miles from the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Wood Stork Colony; and, within the Core Foraging Area of this colony, therefore, the Corps evaluated potential effects to this species. In consideration of this information, the Corps utilized 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, to determine potential effects upon this species. Use of this key resulted in the sequence A-B-no effect. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) 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.
Eastern indigo snake (Drymarchon corais couperi): The proposed work is connected to an upland area; therefore, potential impacts to the eastern indigo snake were evaluated using Eastern Indigo Snake Programmatic Determination Key 2013. Use of this key resulted in the sequence A-B-C-may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect, as the applicant has agreed to implement the Standard Protection Measures for the Eastern Indigo Snake, August 12, 2013. The FWS has indicated that they concur with determinations of may affect, not likely to adversely affect based on the key for eastern indigo snakes; and, that no additional consultation is necessary.
On 25 April 2022, the Corps executed a Resources at Risk (RAR) report. The RAR did not indicate that the site is utilized by, or contains habitat critical to, any other federally listed threatened or endangered species. The Corps also reviewed geospatial data and other available information. The Corps has not received or discovered any information that the project site is utilized by, or contains habitat critical to, any other federally listed, threatened, or endangered species.
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 impact approximately 0.05 acres of forested saltwater habitat and 0.06 acres of open water habitat utilized by various life stages of shrimp, spiney lobster, snapper grouper, sailfish, windowpane flounder, and various species of sharks. Our initial determination is that the proposed action would not have a substantial adverse impact on EFH or Federally managed fisheries in the Tolomato 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.
Navigation: The work proposed is greater than 100-feet from the design edge of the federal channel and therefore coordination with Navigation was not required.
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, Post Office Box 4970, Jacksonville, Florida 32232 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, Janice Price, in writing at the Jacksonville Permits Section, Post Office Box 4970, Jacksonville, Florida 32232; by electronic mail at Janice.R.Price@usace.army.mil; by facsimile transmission at (904)232-1940; or, by telephone at (904)570-4542.
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.
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.