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:
The Breakers Palm Beach, Inc C/O Paul N. Leone
Flagler Drive Holding, LLC, C/O Joseph Tuite
South Ocean Blvd, LLC. C/O Lisa M. Somar
Attn: Deborah Madden
450 East Las Olas Blvd., STE 1400
Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33301
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect waters of the United States (WOTUS) associated with the Atlantic Ocean. The project is located at 1 South County Road, 115 Flagler Drive, and 126 South Ocean Blvd in Palm Beach, along 1,700 linear feet of shoreline of the Atlantic Ocean from Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) monument R-94+1148 to R-95+431 (Section 23, Township 43 South, Range 43 East), Palm Beach County, Florida.
Directions to the site are as follows: From Interstate 95 exit at Palm Beach Lakes Blvd. Take Palm Beach Lakes Blvd. toward the east until it ends at N. Flagler Drive. Turn toward the south of Flagler Drive ad follow to Quadrille Blvd./Flagler Memorial Bridge. Cross the bay on the bridge and follow to County Road. Turn toward the south and follow to 1 South County Road. The project area is located on the Atlantic side of a portion of the Breakers Hotel and private residences at 115 Flagler Drive and 126 South Ocean Blvd.
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES: Latitude 26.7114°
Basic: The basic project purpose is to provide erosion control and shoreline stabilization.
Overall: The overall project purpose is to provide erosion control and shoreline stabilization for the shoreline at the Breakers Hotel and adjacent properties, in Palm Beach County, Florida.
EXISTING CONDITIONS and PROJECT HISTORY: The proposed structures are located within the fill template of the existing Mid-Town Beach re-nourishment project (SAJ-1995-03779) along approximately 875 linear foot stretch of shoreline. The 875 linear foot project area is between groins to the north and south and seaward of existing sea walls. Rapid erosion is experienced within the proposed project area. The existing groins to the north of the proposed project were permitted under SAJ-1992-3157 (Breakers groins/breakwaters), and the existing groins to the south permitted in association with the Mid-Town Beach re-nourishment project, SAJ-1995-03779. The Breakers groins/breakwaters are emergent with a crest elevation of approximately +5 feet NAVD. The upland area consists of eroded beach and exposed seawall. Substantial beach nourishment within the project area began in 1995, with subsequent projects in 2003, 2006, 2015 and 2020. Imagery collected from the mid-1990s to 2014 indicates severe erosion within the project area. After the 2015 beach re-nourishment was completed, over 150 feet of sandy beach width eroded in less than one year, exposing the protruded seawall in the project area. Despite erosion, some sandy beach persisted in the project area, as pocket beaches areas between seawalls. The most recent nourishment was completed in early 2020. The 2020 fill persisted through the 2020 and 2021 sea turtle nesting seasons, but as of November 2021, the remaining sandy beach seaward of the seawall is frequently over washed by winter storm events and the seawall protrudes in the ocean exacerbating the erosion to adjacent beaches. No hardbottom habitat exists within the footprint of the proposed project or within the fill template of the Midtown Beach re-nourishment project.
PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks a 10-year authorization to conduct erosion control and shoreline protection between two existing fields of groin structures by conducting the following activities:
Install three (3) new breakwaters each having a crest length of approximately 85-feet and 15 feet wide (total of approximately 3,825 square feet). The structures will be constructed at crest elevation of +5 feet NAVD and forward slopes of 1V:3H. The breakwaters include the placement of approximately 26,400 square feet of armor stone (5,800 cubic yards) within an approximately 31,000 square feet foundation of approximately one foot diameter bedding stone (1,100 cubic yards) and geotextile extending beyond the structure for scour protection.
Extend one existing breakwater an additional approximately 700 square feet (48- feet by 15-feet).
The three structures will be buried by sand placement upon beach nourishment through the Midtown Beach re-nourishment project, which generally occurs approximately in five-year cycles with the next placement around 2026. After sand placement, the three structures that have a crest elevation of +5 feet NAVD would still be covered given the Midtown beach template has an elevation of +7 feet NAVD. Overtime as the beach erodes in between re-nourishment events, the breakwaters would become emergent. For the breakwater extension, beach nourishment will occur behind the breakwater extension, as is done with the existing breakwaters north of the project area. The breakwater extension will also be emergent with crest elevation of +5 feet NAVD. The bedding foundation footprint, which will be permanently buried under sand, for the three structures and the breakwater extension will total approximately 36,500 square feet. When the three structures and the breakwater extension are emergent, it is estimated that there will be between approximately 14,200 to 21,200 square feet of emergent rock footprint, depending on high to low water conditions, respectively.
Construction will be by mechanical placement using land-based equipment (for example, excavators, cranes) or end dumping with rock placement using barges and cranes, as appropriate. Work will be conducted from upland or from the water by barge as required based upon beach conditions and seasonal timing of construction. Temporary staging at the Breakers beach areas may be used during construction. Staging areas are located by beach access points at Breakers Row and Via Bethesda as close to the dune or existing seawall as possible. Work is anticipated to be during daylight hours with no seasonal restrictions.
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 structures are located within the fill template of the existing Mid-Town Beach re-nourishment project where all hardbottom impacts have been previously mitigated for, therefore no additional impacts to aquatic resources are anticipated or proposed. Adjacent hardbottom resources are approximately 750 to 800 linear feet from the project footprint. The project will implement protections for aquatic species including the Standard Manatee Conditions for in-water work and the Protected Species Construction Conditions for in-water work. The project design includes segmented breakwaters seaward of the existing seawall to restore a more stable sediment pathway seaward of the seawall and reduces the existing gap between the existing erosion control structures to the north and south. The project proposes to improve nearshore sediment exchange and longevity of sand placement in the area. Advanced coastal modeling has demonstrated improvements to the beach nourishment project function by stabilizing chronic erosion areas under existing conditions at Breakers Beach and Clarke Ave beach by minimizing the gap in structural coverage and maintaining improved equilibrium conditions within the proposed project area. Numerous alternatives were considered and modeled to optimize the design and functioning of proposed structures. In 2015, the Applicants performed a feasibility study that studied the existing shoreline features and considered erosion control designs that included no action/sand placement only, low profile groins, nearshore breakwaters, and offshore breakwaters. Due to limitations on sand nourishment because of nearshore hardbottom, the no action/sand placement only alternative was determined not to be feasible for achieving the project purpose. Structural proposals were further studied in the 2016 design development report. Following a separate study by the Town of Palm Beach and the Town’s Technical Advisory Committee’s efforts, the applicants prepared an additional alternatives analysis in 2021, which supported the proposed project. The proposed design of nearshore, permeable structures enhanced nearshore sand pathway, generating a net benefit of sand exchange to adjacent beaches. Additional subsequent modeling was completed in 2022 to further analyze the long-term function of the project over the full nourishment cycle at the request of other agencies. The applicants’ modeling and studies support the proposed project design and demonstrate the overall benefits to the project area and adjacent beaches. The modeling also demonstrated no adverse effects nor cumulative impacts to the project area and the downdrift area to the south.
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION - The applicant has provided the following explanation why compensatory mitigation should not be required:
The applicant has stated that no compensatory mitigation should be required because the project does not directly or indirectly impact hardbottom or other aquatic resources.
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 determined the proposed project may affect the following species: nesting sea turtles (Chelonia mydas, Eremochelys imbricate, Lepidochelys kempii, Dermochelys coriacea, Caretta caretta), the piping plover (Charadrius melodus), the red knot (Chalidris canutus). The Corps has also determined that the project may affect, not likely to adversely affect the West Indian manatee (Trichechus manatus) and the Loggerhead sea turtle designated breeding and migratory critical habitat. The Corps will request consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act by separate letter.
The Corps has determined the proposed project may affect but is not likely to adversely affect the endangered/threatened swimming sea turtles (Chelonia mydas, Eremochelys imbricate, Lepidochelys kempii, Dermochelys coriacea, Caretta caretta), the smalltooth sawfish (Pristis pectinata), the Giant Manta Ray (Manta birostris), the Loggerhead Sea turtle designated critical habitat (LOGG-N-19), and the North Atlantic right whale (Eubalaena glacialis). The Corps will request initiation of informal consultation for the above listed species with the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) pursuant to Section 7 of the ESA by separate letter.
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 proposed project consists of rock placement in submerged, unvegetated sand habitat in the subtidal zone that utilized by various life stages of penaeid shrimp complex, reef fish, stone crab, spiny lobster, migratory/pelagic fish, and snapper/grouper complex. 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 require permission under Section 14 of the Rivers and Harbors Act (33 USC 408) because the activity, in whole or in part, would 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 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 Palm Beach Gardens Permits Section, 4400 PGA Boulevard, STE 500, Palm Beach, 33410 within 21 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, Carolyn Farmer, in writing at the Palm Beach Gardens Permits Section, 4400 PGA Boulevard, STE 500, Palm Beach, 33410; by electronic mail at Carolyn.email@example.com.
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: 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 and/or one of the state Water Management Districts.
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.