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: Morada Cove Partners LLC
C/o David Peterson
10 Fairway Drive, Suite 217
Deerfield Beach, Florida 33441
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect waters of the United States associated with the Florida Bay. The project site is located in Morada Cove Marina at 85500 Overseas Highway in Section 23, Township 63 South, Range 37 East; Windley Key, Monroe County, Florida (RE# 00093830-000000).
Directions to the site are as follows: Take U.S. 1 South to approximately mile marker 85; Turn right onto private road after Snake Creek bridge; Project is located in Morada Cove Marina at 85500 Overseas Highway.
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES: Latitude 24.952423°
Basic: The basic project purpose is shoreline protection and improve recreational access.
Overall: The basic project purpose is for shoreline protection and improve recreational access in Islamorada, Florida.
EXISTING CONDITIONS: The project is located within an existing marina situated between Snake Creek Channel, Snake Creek Bridge, Overseas Highway, and undeveloped saltwater wetlands. According to the benthic survey this commercial property closed after being impacted by Hurricane Irma in 2017. Prior to closing, this property included a restaurant, bar, hotel, and marina. The property is currently being redeveloped.
Within the historically-dredged man-made basin, seafloor substrate was mostly soft bottom consisting of mud, sand, and carbonate rubble. This soft sediment likely has accumulated over years and covered the dredged bedrock within the interior of the basin. The interior of the basin is mostly barren of resources for various reasons such as sedimentation and regular accumulation of floating organic detritus that sinks and blankets the seafloor. However, some sparse macroalgae was present growing from the sediment within the interior of the basin. The existing mooring piles within the interior of the basin were inspected and did not contain any stony corals.
Along the edges of the basin, hard bottom substrate is present where the dredged bedrock is exposed from the accumulated sediment. Additionally, man-made hard substrate is present in the form of concrete related to the previous vertical seawall and marginal dock pilings. Within areas along the edge of the basin, some sparse macroalgae and scattered coral colonies are present attached to the hard substrates. Stony coral colonies were most prevalent along the portions of the shoreline that received additional water flow from the adjacent Snake Creek.
The proposed seawall is expected to result in impacts to stony coral colonies located along that area of the shoreline. Stony corals can be found on the exposed bedrock, concrete seawall, and dock pilings within this area. Based on the benthic survey provided dated September 16, 2021 a total of 138 colonies of stony coral are expected to be impacted totaling 2,511.7 square centimeters.
The proposed finger piers (and optional boatlifts) within the basin are not expected to result in resource impacts. Installation of the support pilings associated with these proposed finger piers will be located within areas of soft bottom substrate and are not expected to directly impact the stony corals located beneath the existing piling-supported concrete dock that is to remain in place.
PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks authorization to renovate an existing marina by placing 906 cubic yards of fill within a 4,890 square foot area to install a new 437 linear foot seawall with associated backfill placed up to 17 feet waterward from the wet face of the existing seawall, to construct a 2,381.6 square foot wood dock expansion with 9 associated finger piers within the basin, to install a floating vessel platform to accommodate 6 slip personal watercrafts, to install 9 cradle boat lifts within the finger pier areas, to construct a 1,987.3 square foot wood “T”-shaped dock with a 12 foot wide by 34 foot long access walkway leading to a 8 foot wide by 207 foot long terminal platform, to install 14 mooring piles, to dredge 32,740 square feet (1,181 cubic yards) of submerged bottom to -6 feet mean low water line within the man-made basin, to install temporary floating turbidity barriers around all work areas that are in/over U.S. navigable waters. Dredge to be conducted with barge mounted crane. Dewatering will be located onsite within a self-contained upland area. Spoil material will be disposed of in an upland disposal facility.
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 adjacent wetlands along the shoreline and perimeter of the property will be avoided. Turbidity curtains and filter fencing will be deployed to isolate the construction site from ambient waters.
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION – The applicant has offered the following compensatory mitigation plan to offset unavoidable functional loss to the aquatic environment: If it is determined that the issuance of a DA permit is appropriate, mitigation will be required. The applicant has indicated that the mitigation proposal will be based on the Keys Restoration Fund (KRF). Time lag and risk will be a required component of any mitigation requirement.
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.
ENDANGERED SPECIES: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) has initially determined the project may affect but is not likely to adversely affect (“MANLAA”) the West Indian manatee (Trichechus manatus) or its designated critical habitat. Since the proposal by the applicant is for in-water construction, potential impacts to the endangered manatee were evaluated using The Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District, and the State of Florida Effect Determination Key for the Manatee in Florida (Manatee Key), dated April 2013. According to the agent, no new slips are proposed. This initial determination partially was based on the implementation of the Standard Manatee Conditions for In-Water Work. The Corps will request U.S. Fish and Wildlife concurrence with this determination pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act.
The real estate parcel number is 00093830-000000 and is on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Suitable Habitat List, dated August 2010, for Monroe County for the Eastern indigo snake.
Since critical habitat has not been designated for the indigo snake, potential impacts to Eastern Indigo Snake (Drymarchon corais couperi) were evaluated using the Eastern Indigo Snake Programmatic Effect Determination Key dated 1 August 2017 (Snake Key). Use of the key resulted in the following sequential determination: A > B > C > D (1), “may affect, not likely to adversely affect (MANLAA)” for the snake. This determination is partially based on the project being conditioned for use of the Service’s Standard Protection Measures for The Eastern Indigo Snake during site preparation and project construction. Therefore, no incidental take will occur, and no further consultation with the FWS is required.
The project is located within American crocodile (Crocodylus acutus) the designated critical habitat area. According to the 28 October 2014 American Crocodile Key, the property does not support suitable nesting habitat for the crocodile as the shoreline is densely vegetated and/or hardened. Use of the Key resulted in the sequence #2. Therefore, the Corps has reached a “may affect not likely to adversely affect” determination on the American crocodile and its suitable nesting habitat. No further consultation with the FWS is required for the American crocodile.
According to the Multi species recovery plan the Piping plover (Charadrius melodus) and Roseate tern (Sterna dougallii) species do not breed in Florida, but may winter in Florida. The PCEs for the species are found in geographically dynamic coastal areas that support intertidal beaches and flats (between annual low tide and annual high tide), and associated dune systems and flats above annual high tide. The project site is not within optimal habitat for these species as the project is located within a heavily trafficked channel and dredged basin. Based on information available a no effect determination has been reached on these species and its native habitat. No further consultation with the FWS is required.
The Corps has determined the proposed project may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect (“MANLAA”) the swimming green sea turtles (Chelonia mydas), loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta), hawksbill sea turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata), Kemp’s ridley sea turtles (Lepidochelys kempii), leatherback sea turtles (Dermochelys coriacea), the smalltooth sawfish (Pristis pectinata), and Nassau grouper (Epinephelus striatus) species. A no effect determination was reached on Acorpora sp. and its designated critical habitat and corals species; (Dendrogyra cylindrus, Orbicella annularis, Orbicella faveolata, Orbicella franksi, and Mycetophyllia ferox). The Corps will request National Marine Fisheries Service concurrence with this determination pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act.
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 4,890 square feet of submerged bottom for the proposed fill activity and alter 32,740 square feet of submerged bottom within the man-made basin for the dredge activity, and shade 1,987 square feet of submerged bottom for the construction of the proposed “T”-shaped dock along Snake Creek Channel utilized by various life stages of marina species. Our initial determination is that the proposed action would not have a substantial adverse impact on EFH or Federally managed fisheries in the Florida Keys. 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 Florida Keys Permits Section, 9900 Southwest 107th Avenue, Suite 203, Miami, Florida 33176 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, Maria Bezanilla, in writing at the Florida Keys Permits Section, 9900 Southwest 107th Avenue, Suite 203, Miami, Florida 33176; by electronic mail at Maria.I.Bezanilla@usace.army.mil (preferred); by telephone at (786) 795-1976.
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: Water Quality Certification may be required from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP). The project is being reviewed under FDEP application no. 0063077-013 EI.
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.