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: Whaley Farms, LLC
Identify applicant name. This should be the person/entity that will be responsible for ensuring compliance with the permit (i.e. the responsible party, not the consultant). Detailed contact information is not required here as it is available in the ORM2 Summary.15481 W 12th Street, Suite 309, Sunrise, FL 33326.
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect waters of the United States associated with the Lake Tohopekaliga watershed (12-digit Hydrologic Unit Code 030901010400). The site is located along the east shoreline of Lake Tohopekaliga (Lake Toho), south of Kissimmee Park Road and east of Lake Tohopekaliga Road, within Sections 20, 21, 28, 29, 30, 32, 33, Township 26 South, Range 30 East, Osceola County, Florida
Directions to the site are as follows: From I-4 take Exit 77 onto Florida's Turnpike South towards Miami. Continue on Florida's Turnpike for approximately 20 miles and take Exit 240 and turn right (south) onto Kissimmee Park Road. Continue on Kissimmee Park Road for approximately 1.7 miles and the destination will be on your left (south).
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES: Latitude 28.190275°
Basic: Residential Development
Overall: Construction of a large-scale Residential Development with secondary supporting recreational and institutional development, in close proximity to employment opportunities and population centers within north-central Osceola County, Florida.
EXISTING CONDITIONS: The 655-acre property has historically, and currently, been managed and operated for agricultural land uses. The site contains approximately 184 acres of wetlands, the majority of which are located within the 100-year floodplain of Lake Toho and associated connecting flow-way canal located along the eastern property boundary. Per review of historic aerials, local knowledge, and on-site observations, the site has been drained (via various ditches and the aforementioned flow-way canal) over several decades to facilitate/enhance agricultural land uses. The result is a site containing 184 acres of low to moderate quality wetlands which have been adversely affected by decades of draining and land management to support agricultural production.
In the current condition, the overall 655-acre property is comprised of the following land uses:
161 acres of low-moderate quality herbaceous freshwater wetlands (wet prairie and marsh)
23 acres of low-moderate quality forested freshwater wetlands (mixed wetland hardwoods)
11 acres of man-made other surface waters (ditches and cattle watering ponds)
10 acres of a single-family residence and associated yard area
255 acres of improved pastures supporting cattle and horses
51 acres of woodland pastures supporting cattle and horses
144 acres of fallow citrus groves
The existing areas immediately surrounding the project area consist primarily of agricultural lands (primarily pasturelands), low-density residential development, and Lake Toho. Further to the east, adjacent land uses include the Florida’s Turnpike (Hwy. 91) and medium-density residential development. The general surrounding area has undergone expansion of residential development since approximately 2000, and several permit applications are currently being reviewed by the Corps for proposed large-scale residential development within immediately surrounding properties.
PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks a 10-year authorization to construct a ±387-acre Mixed-Use Residential Development referred to as Bella Tara, primarily consisting of residential development with secondary supporting recreational and/or institutional (school) development. The project entails 15.64 acres of direct (dredge and fill) impacts to waters of the U.S. More specifically, the project entails 9.70 acres of direct impacts to wetlands and 5.94 acres of direct impacts to man-made other surface waters.
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:
During planning of the proposed project, alternatives for arrangement of residential development footprints were considered, as well as ability to avoid/preserve contiguous large swaths of on-site wetlands and associated 100-year floodplain areas. Based on multiple factors and environmental resources, the proposed design has avoided and minimized impacts to wetland resources to the greatest extent practicable. The overall property contains approximately 184 acres of wetlands and approximately 11 acres of man-made other surface waters (OSWs). Direct (fill and/or dredge) impacts to 5.94 acres of OSWs do not warrant avoidance and minimization, as these areas are man-made, upland-cut ditches and cattle watering ponds which do not provide significant wetland functions nor listed species habitat. Direct (fill and/or dredge) impacts (9.70 acres) to wetlands have been minimized to ensure avoidance of approximately 95% (174 acres) of wetlands on site. Further, approximately 95% (approximately 166 acres) of avoided wetlands are incorporated into a relatively contiguous swath of avoided wetlands, 100-year floodplain, and abutting upland buffers and upland inclusions in the post-development condition, comprising a total of approximately 268 acres. Avoidance of 95% of onsite wetlands and ability to avoid large contiguous swaths of wetlands and uplands which are located within or directly adjacent to the 100-year floodplain shall help ensure the long-term viability of the avoided wetland areas and supporting upland habitats. Furthermore, where possible, a 25-foot average upland buffer has been provided between remaining wetlands and proposed development, and stormwater management ponds have been designed to provide additional buffers in most areas between residential development and remaining wetland systems on site. As a result of the avoidance efforts, approximately 268 acres (41%) of the overall 655-acre property are to remain completely avoided and undeveloped, with 387 acres (59%) slated for construction/development (mixed-use development and supporting stormwater management ponds).
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION: The applicant has offered the following compensatory mitigation plan to offset unavoidable functional loss to the aquatic environment:
Proposed direct impacts to wetlands (9.70 acres) and associated potential secondary impacts to wetlands (3.35 acres) were evaluated utilizing the Uniform Mitigation Assessment Method (UMAM). Based on the UMAM calculations, the proposed direct and secondary wetland impacts would result in the functional loss of 5.67 UMAM units. The Applicant proposes to purchase 5.67 UMAM wetland credits at a federally-approved mitigation bank authorized to service the project area, thus resulting in no net loss of wetland function within the region.
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, but is not likely to adversely affect the Everglade Snail Kite, Florida Bonneted Bat, Audubon's Crested Caracara, Wood Stork, and Eastern Indigo Snake, or its designated critical habitat. The Corps will request U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service concurrence with this determination pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act.
The Corps has determined the proposal would have no effect on any other listed threatened or endangered species or designated critical habitat.
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 not impact habitat types identified as EFH. Our initial determination is that the proposed action would not 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: The applicant will not require permission from the Corps Navigation Section because the activity, in whole or in part, would not alter, occupy, use, or potentially affect a Federal navigation project.
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 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 Cocoa Permits Section, 400 High Point Drive, Suite 600, Cocoa, Florida, 32926 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, Jason D. Perryman, in writing at the Cocoa Permits Section, 400 High Point Drive, Suite 600, Cocoa, Florida, 32926; by electronic mail at email@example.com; or, by telephone at (321)504-3771.
MPACT 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.
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 South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD). The project is being reviewed under SFWMD application no. 211209-32413.
COASTAL ZONE MANAGEMENT CONSISTENCY: In Florida, the State approval constitutes compliance with the approved 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.