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: Southbelt Park, LTD
Attention: Irving Snyder, Jr.
13897 Bella Riva Lane
Jacksonville, Florida 32225
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect waters of the United States associated with the Cormorant Branch, which flows into Julington Creek and on into the St. Johns River. The project site is located south of Ricky Drive, north of Loretto Road, and east of Gwynford Lane and Kennedy Lane, in Sections 7, 8, 17, and 39, Township 4 South, Range 27 East, Jacksonville, Duval County, Florida.
Directions to the site are as follows: From I-295 West Beltway take the San Jose Boulevard Exit 5 (SR 13) and travel south on San Jose Boulevard for approximately 1 ½ miles; make a left onto Loretto Road and travel east for ½ mile; the southernmost part of the project is located on the northern side of Loretto Road.
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES: Latitude 30.163614°
Basic: The basic project purpose is residential development.
Overall: The overall project purpose is to develop a single-family residential development in the Mandarin area of Jacksonville, Duval County.
a. Existing Conditions: The wetland system consists of a freshwater, nontidal system adjacent to Cormorant Branch. Cormorant Branch becomes more tidally-influenced closer to Julington Creek, which flows on into the St. Johns River. Currently, the site consists of 23.58 acres of land and three home sites. The home site fronting Loretto Road was constructed in 1913 and includes an old pecan grove. A second residence structure to the northwest was constructed in 1901 and a third residence structure to the northwest was constructed in 1909. To the west of Cormorant Branch is high density residential development; to the east of the proposed work is low density development followed by high density residential development further to the east.
b. Vegetative Communities: Five land use cover-types were identified within the site boundaries. These communities were classified using the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) Florida Land Use, Cover and Forms Classification System as follows:
i. Residential Low Density (110) 9.25 acres – These areas are located on the southern and western portions of the site and consist of maintained areas of St. Augustine grass (Stenotaphrum secundatum) and scattered trees such as live oak (Quercus virginiana), water oak (Q. nigra), loblolly pine (Pinus taeda), and slash pine (P. elliottii).
ii. Pine – Mesic Oak (414) 9.80 acres – This upland cover-type is located in the majority of on-site undeveloped areas. Typical vegetation observed include loblolly pine, slash pine, live oak, sweet gum (Liquidambar styraciflua), laurel oak (Q. laurifolia), gallberry (Ilex glabra), southern magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora), red cedar (Juniperus virginiana), saw palmetto (Serenoa repens), coral ardisia (Ardisia crenata), and bracken fern (Pteridium aquilinum).
iii. Roads and Highways (814) 0.36 acre – This is a gravel road that runs east-west on the site.
iv. Wetland Forested Mixed (630) 4.13 – The wetlands are classified as Wetland Forested Mixed (630) and all appeared to have been historically altered. Typical vegetation observed consisted of sweet gum, water oak, laurel oak, red maple (Acer rubrum), loblolly pine, sweet mangnolia (M. virginiana), fetterbush (Lyonia lucida), sabal palm (Sabal palmetto), cinnamon fern (Osmunda cinnamomea), and coral ardisia.
v. Streams and Waterways/Ditches (511) 0.04 acre - Cormorant Branch is on the western and northern border of the property. It was channelized in the past and the eastern side of the canal is a manmade berm.
PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks authorization to place 9,824-cubic-yards of fill into 1.73 acres of clean fill material within waters of the United States (palustrine forested wetlands) for the construction of a residential subdivision and associated infrastructure. The work proposed would also result in the discharge of fill material into 2.29-acres of aquatic resources (palustrine forested wetlands) that the applicant has presented as non-jurisdictional to the Corps for the proposed residential development. The applicant is seeking a 5-year authorization to accommodate the proposed development. Work would begin late Spring 2022. The proposed work would include 64 units, which would be classified as Residential, Medium Density 2-5 units per acre. The applicant has submitted an approved jurisdictional determination for those waters that have been presented as non-jurisdictional, which would be verified by the Corps.
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 1.73 acres of impacts shown are necessary for the viability of this project. Water quality in wetlands adjacent to impact areas will be protected from construction impacts using silt fences along the margin of the development area. Wetland functions, with respect to water quality, are not expected to be adversely affected by the proposed project.”
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION – The applicant has offered the following compensatory mitigation plan to offset unavoidable functional loss to the aquatic environment:
“Impacts to wetlands requiring mitigation (i.e., 1.73 acres±) will be off-set with mitigation bank credits. The mitigation will be acquired from a federally approved mitigation bank.”
CULTURAL RESOURCES: 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.
a. 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 > no effect, as the project would not impact 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.
b. The Corps has determined the proposed project may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect the Eastern Indigo Snake (Drymarchon corais couperi). The Corps evaluated potential impacts to the eastern indigo snake using the Eastern Indigo Snake Programmatic Determination Key 2013. Use of this key resulted in the sequential determination A > B > C > Not Likely to Adversely Affect due to the property having no gopher tortoises, no burrows, holes, cavities, or other refugia where a snake could be buried or trapped, and due to the permit verification being conditioned for the use of the USFWS’s Standard Protection Measures For The Eastern Indigo Snake during site preparation and project implementation. In consideration of the key sequence, additional coordination with the USFWS is not required. 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.
c. The Corps executed a Resources At Risk (RAR) report on December 22, 2021. 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. 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 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, 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 Terri.M.Mashour@usace.army.mil; 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.