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SAJ-2016-00118 (SP-TMM)

Jacksonville District
Published July 5, 2022
Expiration date: 8/1/2022

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 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:  Raydient Places and Properties

                        Attention: Wesley Hinton

                       1 Raydient Way

                         Wildlight, Florida 32097

WATERWAY AND LOCATION:  The project would affect waters of the United States (palustrine forested wetlands, herbaceous wetlands, and open water) associated with Blounts Branch, unnamed tributaries of Bells River and unnamed tributaries of McQueen Creek.  The project site is a 4,730.55 acres located adjacent to and north of County Road (CR) 200A (Pages Dairy Road), northeast of McQueen Creek, west and north of the Page Hill Subdivision on Worthing Drive, adjacent to the east of Yulee Hills Road East, and west of Hill Valley Avenue, in Sections 41, 42, 43 Township 3 South, Range 27 East and Sections 50 and 51, Township 3 South, Range 27 East, Yulee, Nassau County, Florida.

Directions to the site are as follows:  From Interstate (I) 95 in Jacksonville, travel north. Exit onto State Road (SR) 200 (Buccaneer Trail). Travel east for 2.9 miles. Take a left and travel north on US 17. Take a right and travel east on CR 200A Pages Dairy Road. The site will be on the north side of SR 200A at the intersection of Blounts Branch and CR 200A. 

APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES:         Latitude       30.66471666°

                                                                                 Longitude -81.57045°


Basic:  The basic project purpose is residential and commercial development.

Overall:  The overall project purpose is mixed-use (residential and commercial) development and associated infrastructure within Nassau County, Florida.


a. Project History:

    i. The applicant coordinated with Nassau County to develop the East Nassau Community Planning Area (ENCPA), also known as the Wildlight community. The ENCPA is a 24,000-acre state approved Sector Plan that was established for long-range planning. The Corps previously authorized work within the ENCPA under SAJ-2014-02316, which is a 2,938-acre tract east of I-95, west of SR 17, and north and south of A1A. The Corps also previously authorized work on December 20, 2016 within the ENCPA under SAJ-2016-00118, a 1,079-acre area known as Chester Road. This permit has an expiration date of December 20, 2041. The SAJ-2016-00118 authorization had an Approved Jurisdictional Determination dated August 4, 2016 which expired on August 4, 2021.

   ii. On August 9, 2021, the Corps held a preapplication meeting with the applicant to review a new plan for SAJ-2016-00118 that would incorporate proposed work within the original Chester Road 1,079-acre area and an additional 3,651.55 acres within the ENCPA adjacent to the west of SAJ-2016-00118. The Corps worked with the applicant to determine if the proposed work within the 3,651.55-acre area would be determined to be a single and complete project with a new permit number or if it would be considered part of SAJ-2016-00118 or a modification to SAJ-2016-00118. No work commenced under SAJ-2016-00118 and the new plans were developed for the original SAJ-2016-00118 area and the 3,651.55-acre area as a whole. Therefore, it was determined that the original Standard Permit action authorized under SAJ-2016-00118 would be abandoned and a new Standard Permit action for both the original permit area and the new 3,651.55-acre area would be determined as a single and complete project. The Standard Permit action was opened on June 1, 2022 under SAJ-2016-00118.

  iii. Additional preapplication meetings and an on-site visit were conducted to determine the location of the Ordinary High Water Mark (OHWM) for Blounts Branch. The verification of the location of the OHWM was conducted in order to evaluate whether there were fill impacts below the OHWM in the Blounts Branch retained water and/or in wetlands adjacent to Blounts Branch within 300 feet. On June 2, 2022, it was determined that, based on the location of the OHWM verified, the currently proposed fill impacts were within waters retained by the Corps. It was then evaluated whether the 4.76 acres of proposed impacts in retained waters for a road would have independent utility and be processed by the Corps with the remainder of the proposed impacts assumed by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection or whether the road was part of a single and complete project required as part of the proposed residential/commercial development and the entire project retained by the Corps. Based on information provided by the applicant, it was determined that the road is required for the residential/commercial development and the entire 4,730.55 acre proposed development is a single and complete project. Therefore, with the 4.76 acres of proposed impacts in waters retained by the Corps, the whole 4,730.55-acre project would be retained by the Corps for processing. It is noted that if the impacts in retained waters are avoided as part of the permit review and the proposed work is updated resulting in no impacts within Corps retained waters, the entire project could be assumed by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

       iv. On June 2, 2022, a new Standard Permit action was opened under SAJ-2016-00118 to incorporate the original 1,079-acre area and the additional 3,651.55 acres as new proposed work to be evaluated as a single and complete project under SAJ-2016-00118. The areas combined will be known as the Preliminary Development Planning (PDP) 4.   

b. Existing Conditions: The project site is approximately 4,730.55 acres in size and encompasses 24 communities (reference Table 1) characterized by the Florida Land Use, Cover and Forms Classification System (FLUCFCS). Vegetation within these areas is typical for the communities identified. Table 1 conveys the approximate acreage of these communities. Wetlands and surface waters comprise 1,850.97 acres (39.13%) and uplands comprise 2,879.58 acres (60.87%). The existing area surrounding the project site consists of two residential subdivisions on the southern end, forested lands to the south and west, and various residential subdivisions to the north and northeast.

c. Jurisdiction: The applicant has submitted a proposed Approved Jurisdictional Determination. The applicant believes that the project site encompasses approximately 2,129 acres of wetlands and surface waters within Federal jurisdiction and approximately 188.83 acres wetlands not within Federal jurisdiction (proposed as non-jurisdictional in consideration of the Supreme Court decision Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County vs. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, 531 U.S. 159 (2001). The Corps has not yet field reviewed the wetland delineation and proposed Approved Jurisdictional Determination.

PROPOSED WORK:  The applicant seeks authorization to discharge 397,110-cubic-yards of fill material over 85.65 acres of waters of the United States (80.72 acres of palustrine forested wetlands and 2.72 acres of palustrine herbaceous wetlands) and 16,527-cubic-yards of fill into 2.21 acres of waters of the United States (ditches) within Federal jurisdiction for development of a master-planned, mixed-use community to include conservation areas, a roadway network, residential, municipal, commercial, and town center designations with a focus on interconnectivity between land uses. The work proposed would also result in the discharge of 383,881-cubic-yards of fill material over 95.44 acres of aquatic resources (72.65 acres of palustrine forested wetlands and 6.67 acres of herbaceous wetlands) and 312,001-cubic-yards of fill into 16.12 acres of aquatic resources (borrow pits) that the applicant has presented as non-jurisdictional to the Corps for the proposed master-planned development. The applicant is seeking a 20-year authorization to accommodate the proposed development. The Corps recognizes that there are roads leading off site to the west that could lead to future proposed development that could cause additional wetland impacts; however, those impacts would be evaluated individually upon such time that any future proposed work is submitted. At this time the applicant has stated that the current proposal is a single and complete project and could be constructed without any other development. Additionally, any future proposed phases or modifications within the ENCPA would require further evaluation by the Corps to determine whether the project would be retained by the Corps or assumed by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s State 404 Program.

Table 1:  Florida Land Use, Cover, and Forms Classification System (FLUCFCS)




Percent Land Area


Woodland Pasture




Live Oak




Hardwood – Coniferous Mixed




Coniferous Plantations




Coniferous Plantations (Young Pine)




Forest Regeneration Area




Streams and Waterways




Ditches and Streams








Bay Swamps




Mixed Wetland Hardwoods




Wetland Coniferous Forests








Hydric Pine Flatwoods




Wetland Forested Mixed




Wetland Forested Mixed (Logged)




Freshwater Marshes




Wet Prairies




Emergent Aquatic Vegetation




Treeless Hydric Savanna




Dirt Roads / Roads and Highways








Wet Coniferous Pine Plantations




Dirt Road in Wetland







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:

“Impacts to WOUS could not be totally avoided due to the configuration of internal roadways and associated support infrastructure, grading requirements and engineering requirements for the SWMS. Complete avoidance would not be practicable considering cost, technology, and logistics in light of overall project purpose. Significant effort was undertaken during the planning process to minimize the discharge of dredged or fill material to WOUS to the extent practicable. Protection of the environment and conservation of natural resources was a priority in the development and planning process associated with the ENCPA master plan. A core component of the vision for the ENCPA master plan is the conservation of “green infrastructure” within the Conservation Habitat Network (CHN). The CHN is designed to ensure that viable environmental communities are sustained during and after development (Figure 1.0-3). In addition to state and federal regulations, wetland protection within the ENCPA is also regulated by Nassau County. Per the County’s comprehensive plan, proposed development must be directed away from wetlands “…by clustering the development to maintain the largest contiguous wetland area practicable and to preserve the predevelopment wetland conditions.” In the pre-development condition, the Applicant conducts a constraints analysis on potential development property which addresses engineering, geo-technical, environmental, cultural resources, and other similar issues which factor into the economic and technological considerations of development feasibility. These constraints are then incorporated into the design and planning process. A key factor in the planning process is avoidance of wetland impacts to the extent practicable based upon economic, technological issues, public safety and logistical considerations. Where complete avoidance is not practicable, steps to minimize wetland impacts are incorporated. Among the steps are crossing wetlands or surface waters at the narrowest practicable location, utilizing existing crossings when present and practicable, configuring development such that impacts to WOUS are minimized to the extent practicable, configuring the development to be compact, and generally limiting impacts to isolated areas and/or wetland edges when complete avoidance is not practicable. This comprehensive process results in a development plan that avoids and minimizes impacts to wetlands and surface waters to the extent practicable. For PDP4, the unavoidable discharge of dredged or fill material to WOUS have been limited to 85.66 acres out of 1,662 acres of WOUS that are located within the Site, approximately 5% of the onsite WOUS. The discharge to WOUS associated with road construction has been designed to efficiently provide access to development areas and to comply with safety standards for roadways. Where crossing WOUS is necessary the crossings have been located at existing agricultural road crossings to minimize impacts to WOUS. Those discharges associated with the construction of the SWMS are generally limited to small areas where minimal impacts were necessary at the margins of WOUS. The location and size of the SWMS ponds are based on engineering principles to provide the most efficient system. Impacts to edges of WOUS are to poor quality systems that have been in active silviculture. Also of note, the CRP area, which was previously permitted for impacts to WOUS, now proposes to reduce impacts by 10.57 acres; this further demonstrates minimization of impacts. Having satisfied the requirements for “avoidance and minimization,” the proposed mitigation plan satisfies the requirement for compensatory mitigation for those impacts that cannot be avoided or minimized.”

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

“The mitigation plan is a part of the overall East Nassau mitigation plan as approved in DSAP 1 (SAJ-2014-02316) where the compensatory mitigation plan has been designed to ensure that “no net loss” of wetland functions will occur and complies with the ACOE’s 12-components of Compensatory Mitigation. Compensatory mitigation proposed to offset unavoidable wetland impacts in PDP4 incorporates the onsite

restoration and/or preservation of 2,037.09 acres of uplands and wetlands are proposed to be protected in perpetuity through recording of conservation easements. Lands proposed to be protected in perpetuity include approximately 1,669.84 acres of wetlands and surface waters and approximately 359.07 acres of uplands. A total of 8.18 acres of surface waters, 141.98 acres of upland buffers, and 35.37 acres of other uplands will be included in the conservation easement within the Conservation Habitat Network; however, these areas were not utilized to generate mitigation. A total of 1,427.61 acres of wetland preservation is proposed as a part of the mitigation plan.

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.


The Corps has determined the proposed project may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect the West Indian manatee (Trichecus manatus). The Corps evaluated potential effects to the West Indian manatee 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 > N > O > P5 may affect, not likely to adversely affect as the applicant would follow the Standard Manatee Conditions for In Water Work. Additionally, the 13 May 2019 additional conditions do not apply, as the project does not incorporate clamshell dredge operations or the installation of metal pilings.  The United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) previously indicated that they concur with determinations of no effect based on that key; and, that no additional consultation is required. 

The Corps has determined the proposed project may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect the Wood Stork (Mycteria americana). The Corps evaluated potential effects to Wood Stork using 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.  Use of this key resulted in the sequential determination A > B > C > D > E not likely to adversely affect, as the project would affect more than 0.5 acres of suitable foraging habitat, but would provide suitable foraging habitat compensation within the Core Foraging Area consisting of enhancement, restoration, or creation in a project phased approach that provides an amount of habitat and foraging function equivalent to that of impacted Suitable Foraging Habitat. The USFWS previously indicated that they concur with determinations of not likely to adversely affect based on that key; and, that no additional consultation is required.   

The Corps has determined the proposed project may affect the eastern indigo snake (Drymarchon corais couperi) based on the Eastern Indigo Snake Programmatic Effect Determination Key sequence (A > B > C > D > may affect) as the proposed work would impact approximately 1,435 active or inactive gopher tortoise burrows.  The Corps will request initiation of formal consultation with the USFWS pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act. 

The Corps has determined the proposed project would not affect the Red-cockaded Woodpecker (Picoides borealis). Habitat for Red-cockaded Woodpecker typically incorporates mature pine woodlands; and, optimal habitat is characterized as a broad savanna with a scattered overstory of large pines and a dense groundcover containing a diversity of grass and shrub species.  Nesting and roosting occur in cavity trees that are almost exclusively old, living, flat-topped pine trees.  The project site does not encompass typical or optimum habitat; or, trees capable of supporting cavities. As significant forested habitat is located near the project site, it is likely that this species would only opportunistically forage at the site, which the project would not preclude. Therefore, the Corps concludes that the project would have no effect on this species; and, consultation with the USFWS is not required. 

The Corps has determined the proposed project may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect the Atlantic sturgeon (Acipenser oxyrinchus oxyrinchus), leatherback sea turtle (Dermochelys coriacea), shortnose sturgeon (Acipenser brevirostrum), loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta), green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas). The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) previously indicated that they concur with determinations of not likely to adversely affect based on that key; and, that no additional consultation is required.   

On May 11, 2022, the Corps executed a RAR report. The RAR did not indicate that the site is utilized by, or contains habitat critical to, any federally listed threatened or endangered species, other than those mentioned above. 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 federally listed, threatened, or endangered species, other than those mentioned above.

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. Our initial determination is that the proposed action would not have a substantial adverse impact on EFH or Federally managed fisheries in the South Atlantic Region.  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.

SECTION 408: The applicant would 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, 701 San Marco Boulevard, Jacksonville, Florida 32207 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, Terri M. Mashour, in writing at the Jacksonville Permits Section, 701 San Marco Boulevard, Jacksonville, Florida 32207; by electronic mail at; or, by telephone at (904) 570-4512. 

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.

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 or the criteria established under authority of Section 102(a) of the Marine Protection Research and Sanctuaries Act of 1972.  

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: Water Quality Certification may be required from the St. Johns River Water Management District.

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.