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:
Angler’s Paradise of Bonita Springs, Inc.
c/o Mr. Ronald Sabatino
3895 Stoneridge Lane
Dublin, Ohio 43017
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect waters of the United States, including wetlands, associated with the Imperial River. The project site is located at the terminus and east side of Windsor Road, in Section 33, Township 47 South, Range 25 East, Bonita Springs, Lee County, Florida.
Directions to the site are as follows (from the Corps’ Fort Myers Field Office): Turn right onto Summerlin Road (1.0-miles), turn left onto Boy Scout Drive (0.5-miles), turn right onto U.S. Highway 41 (18.6-miles), turn right onto Bonita Beach Road (0.3-miles), turn right onto Windsor Road (0.3-miles), and the property will be on the right.
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES:
Basic: Residential development with boating access
Overall: Construct multi-family residential development with boating access, in Bonita Springs, Lee County, Florida.
EXISTING CONDITIONS: The project site consists of a 24.39-acre undeveloped parcel, on the east side of Windsor Road. The project site was a former 108-unit mobile home park, with boating access contained within a man-made basin. By 2010, all of the mobile homes and building pads were removed, and a perimeter berm was constructed. The boat basin has direct access to the Imperial River. The Corps previously permitted the site for a mixed-use multi-family residential and commercial development with boating access, on January 24, 2011 (SAJ-2005-02842 (IP-BEM).
The current site consists of the following habitats:
Open Urban Land (FLUCCS Code: 190): This habitat consists of approximately 10.12-acres and is the largest of the upland habitats. These habitats are what remains from the removal of the mobile homes and associated land clearing. The habitat is dominated by Australian pine (Casuarina equisetifolia), guineagrass (Panicum maximum), and Florida pusley (Richardia scabra), with cogon grass (Imperata cylindrica), Elliot’s lovegrass (Eragrostis elliottii), whitehead broom (Spermacoce verticillate), and grapevine common. Live oak (Quercus virginiana), cabbage palm, downy rose myrtle (Rhodomyrtus tomentosa), rusty lyonia (Lyonia ferruginea), and Caesar weed also inhabit these areas.
Open Urban Land-Hydric (FLUCCS Code: 190H): This habitat comprises approximately 10.15-acres and is the largest of the wetland habitats on site. This is cleared open land that remains following the removal of all residential structures and associated land clearing that was previously done; however, land clearing lowered the ground elevation to a point that wetland conditions have established. Although the site is still maintained by periodic mowing, the majority of species are wetland. Rush fuirena (Fuirena scirpoidea), wedelia (Wedelia trilobata), torpedo grass (Panicum repens) are the most dominant species, with white-top sedge (Rhynchospora nervosa), cattail (Typha latifolia), and dog fennel (Eupatorium capillifolium) common, and coinwort (Centella asiatica), water pennywort, nut sedge (Cyperus haspan), saltbush (Baccharis halimifolia) occurring.
Pine-Mesic Oak – 50% to 75% Exotics (FLUCCS Code: 414E3): This habitat comprises approximately 1.30-acres of the project site. The habitat is the last remaining natural portion of the site unimpacted by any previous activities. Vegetation on the site is dominated by laurel oak (Quercus laurifolia) and earleaf acacia (Acacia auriculiformis), but cabbage palm (Sabal palmetto), slash pine (Pinus elliottii), Brazilian pepper (Schinus terebinthifolia), and myrsine (Myrsine guianensis) are common. Wax myrtle (Myrica cerifera), Caesar weed (Urena lobata), saw palmetto (Serenoa repens), greenbriar (Smilax spp.), and grapevine (Vitis rotundifolia) are also found in this habitat.
Streams/Waterways (FLUCCS Code: 510): This habitat comprises approximately 0.16-acres of the site and consists of the Imperial River in the northern portion of the project site.
Mangrove Swamps – 25% to 50% Exotics (FLUCCS Code: 612E2): This habitat comprises approximately 0.14-acres of the site. This area forms a fringe along the river that has established since the site was originally developed with the trailer park. The property is dominated by red mangrove (Rhizophora mangle), with Brazilian pepper and coin vine (Dalbergia ecastaphyllum) common.
Exotic Wetland Hardwoods – 90% Exotics (FLUCCS Code: 619): This habitat comprises approximately 0.15-acres of the site. This area was cleared in the past but has reestablished with exotic invasive vegetation. This habitat is similar to the mangrove swamps described above, except dominated by Brazilian pepper, with coin vine common, and occasional red mangroves.
Wetland Scrub (FLUCCS Code: 631): This habitat comprises approximately 0.11-acres of the site. This area was cleared in the past but has reestablished with predominantly scrubby vegetation around a depressional area created during clearing of the on-site structures. The habitat consists of Carolina willow (Salix caroliniana), Peruvian willow (Ludwigia peruviana), water pennywort (Hydrocotyle spp.), and wax myrtle.
Spoil Areas (FLUCCS Code: 743): Spoil areas comprise approximately 0.79-acres of the site. The spoil areas consist of the perimeter berm previously constructed under the original permit. the berm separates the project site in the northeast portion with the park to the north.
Roadways (FLUCCS Code: 814): Roadways comprise approximately 0.87-acres of the site.
Waterway (FLUCCS Code: 1841): This habitat comprises approximately 0.60-acres of the site and consists of a man-made boat basin. This habitat is currently protected by a dilapidated concrete bulkhead and contains the finger piers that previously served the mobile home park.
The project site is surrounded by residential development and Windsor Road to the west, the Imperial River and a regional park to the north, commercial development to the south, and commercial development and U.S. Highway 41 to the east.
PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks authorization to place fill within 10.26-acres of wetlands to act as a suitable for the construction of a residential development. The project will also consist of the replacement of 739 linear feet (863 square feet) of bulkhead within the man-made basin in the same footprint as the existing bulkhead. The man-made basin will be dredged to -4-feet mean low water, which will remove approximately 906 cubic yards of material to accommodate new mooring slips. All dredge spoil will be placed on site to allow to dewater before being removed to an offsite disposal area. The project will also consist of the construction of 34 finger piers, with varying dimensions, for a total overwater coverage of approximately 2,430 square feet. Each finger pier will have a boatlift for a total of 32 mooring slips. Floating turbidity curtains will be deployed to minimize sedimentation within the waterway.
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: “There are no natural wetlands on the property. All of the wetlands present on this site are the result of past disturbances when the trailer park was cleared and scraped down as part of an earlier development project. These wetlands are of very low quality/value for several reasons as outlined below.
a. They are hydrologically isolated from other upstream or downstream waters. The perimeter berm and remaining roadway within the project boundary serve to create a series of isolated cells with no connectivity.
b. They are located on a site which has been disturbed for several decades. First with the trailer park, then due to the elimination of the trailer park. The site is surrounded by roadways and development on three sides and is subject to high development pressure due to its urban location. Additionally, the site was permitted for residential development previously.
c. There is no utilization of the project site by wetland dependent species. Wildlife surveys of the property have been undertaken several times over the past 15 years and no nesting or denning on the site has been documented. Only transient foraging use by a few wading birds has been described.
d. The property is looked at as a vacant developed property and is required by local (City of Bonita) regulations to be maintained via mowing to keep the groundcover vegetation below certain heights. The property is periodically mowed in accordance with these requirements and so is still subject to ongoing disturbance.
The selection of this property for the proposed project is actually a minimization of potential impacts associated with the project. The project is to construct a residential community with associated water access and vessel moorage. This property is a previously disturbed site which had been disturbed by residential uses, and already has an existing boat basin that can accommodate vessel mooring appropriate to the adjacent waterway. Any other property chosen for this project with waterfront access, would require additional impacts to the waterway itself, new dock within the waterway, and impacts to shoreline vegetation. This project impacts no shoreline vegetation, utilizes an existing boat basin so no docks are required in the waterway itself, and impacts only land that has impacted in the past.
The property has a development plan which was previously reviewed and approved by the SFWMD. This proposal is to re-authorize that previously approved project. Wetland impacts cannot be reduced or eliminated to the extent of wetland which has established on the property as a result of the previous abandoned development activities, as well as the reduction in the overall project size due to the transfer of a portion of the property to the City of Bonita for a planned roadway extension. The loss of property due to this transfer and the required development activity needed to result in a viable project require the extent of impacts to the man-made wetlands that are proposed with this project. No additional lands are proposed to be developed other than what was previously approved.” In addition, silt screens will be placed around impact areas and will not be removed until all slopes are stabilized. Turbidity curtains will be deployed for in-water work and will remain until all work is complete. A turbidity monitoring plan has been devised to ensure that turbidity within the Imperial River does not exceed allowances.
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION: The applicant has provided the following explanation why compensatory mitigation should not be required: “Due to the creation of wetland areas as a result of the grading and scraping that occurred under the previous permits, the current plan will impact 10.26 acres of these man-made wetlands. On-site mitigation for wetland impacts is limited to the restoration and enhancement of 0.28 acres of forested brackish wetlands and associated upland buffer along the Imperial River. The change in wetland area associated with the clearing and fill removal from previous actions results in additional wetland impacts than originally permitted and a companion increase in the mitigation requirement. A UMAM analysis was conducted to determine the mitigation requirement. Mitigation credits will be purchased from an approved wetland mitigation bank having a service area which overlays the project site.
Due to the impacted and hydrologically isolated condition of the wetland areas, the pre-construction (existing) values are low (0.27). The impact UMAM calculations take into
consideration the impacts that will occur from dredging and filling as well as isolation. The total functional loss from the unavoidable impacts is 2.77 functional units. Enhancement activities along the River will create approximately 0.02 units of wetland functional lift so the overall compensatory mitigation requirement for the project will be 2.75 credits purchased from the Corkscrew 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.
ENDANGERED SPECIES: The Corps has preliminarily determined that the proposed project may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect, the West Indian manatee (Trichechus manatus), Eastern indigo snake (Drymarchon corais couperi), Florida bonneted bat (Eumops floridanus), American wood stork (Mycteria americana), as well as the smalltooth sawfish (Pristis pectinata), and green (Chelonia mydas), Kemp’s ridley (Lepidochelys kempii), and loggerhead (Caretta caretta) sea turtles. The Corps will request U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service concurrence with these determinations pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act under separate cover, if necessary.
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 0.60-acres of EFH utilized by various life stages of fish species for the following species: coastal migratory pelagic, shrimp, red drum, and reef fish. Our initial determination is that the proposed action would have a substantial adverse impact on EFH or Federally managed fisheries. 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: Based on the Florida State Plane coordinates provided by the applicant, the proposed project will not affect the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, any other Federal navigation channel, or any local navigation channel within the Imperial River.
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.
COMMENTS regarding the potential authorization of the work proposed should be submitted in writing to the attention of the District Engineer through the Fort Myers Permits Section, 1520 Royal Palm Square Boulevard, Suite 310, Fort Myers, Florida, 33919, or by email at John.N.Policarpo@usace.army.mil, 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, John N. Policarpo, in writing at the Fort Myers Permits Section, 1520 Royal Palm Square Boulevard, Suite 310, Fort Myers, Florida, 33919; by electronic mail at John.N.Policarpo@usace.army.mil; or by telephone at (239) 334-1975.
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, aesthetics, 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: 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 South Florida 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.