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: EW Property Holding, LLC
c/o Marc Porosoff
401 East Las Olas Boulevard, Suite 1870
Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33301
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The ±1,219-acre Edgewater West project would affect waters of the United States (WOTUS) associated with Lake Tohopekaliga (HUC 030901010400). The project site is located north of CR 525 (Kissimmee Park Road) and east of Cherokee Road in St. Cloud, within Sections 13 & 24, Township 26 South, Range 29 East and Sections 18, 19 & 20, Township 26 South, Range 30 East; in Osceola County, Florida.
Directions to the site are as follows: From US 192 in St. Cloud, take Old Canoe Creek Road south approximately 2.15-miles; turn right onto CR 525 and proceed approximately 3-miles. The project is on the north side of the road.
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES:
Basic: The basic project purpose is mixed-use development (with navigable water access).
Overall: The overall project purpose is to develop a multi-phase, mixed-use development with single and multi-family housing, open space, a school, and navigation access to Lake Tohopekaliga that complies with the East of Lake Toho Element of the Osceola County 2040 Comprehensive Plan, in Osceola County, Florida.
EXISTING CONDITIONS: The subject site currently supports nine land use types/vegetative communities within its boundaries. These areas were identified utilizing the Florida Land Use, Cover and Forms Classification System, Level III (FLUCCS, FDOT, January 1999). The upland areas are classified as Improved Pasture (211), Citrus (221), Pine Flatwoods (411), Xeric Oak (421) and Live Oak (427). Wetland/surface water areas include approximately 7.24-acres of ditches (21,036 lineal feet), 3.55-acres of ponds and 284.04-acres of wetlands which are classified as Reservoirs (534), Wetland Mixed Forest (630), Freshwater Marsh (641), and Wet Prairie (643). The following provides a brief description of these land use types/vegetative communities identified on the site.
211 Improved Pasture - Much of the non-vegetation uplands best meet the FLUCFCS description for Improved Pasture (211). Additionally, areas of pasture are also being used as a sod farm. Vegetation within this land use includes bahia grass (Paspalum notatum), pawpaw (Asimina reticulata), thistle (Cirsium spp.), rattlebox (Sesbania spp.), blackberry (Rubus spp.), live oak (Quercus virginiana), Brazilian pepper (Schinus terebenthifolius), and sabal palm (Sabal palmetto).
221 Citrus - Two areas meeting the Citrus (221) FLUCFCS are present on site. These areas contain a variety of citrus trees (Citrus spp.) rose natalgrass (Melinis repens) and sandbur (Cenchrus spp).
411 Pine Flatwoods - Several smaller areas meet the Pine Flatwoods (411) FLUCFCS land use type. Canopy species include slash pine (Pinus elliottii), long leaf pine (P. palustris) and pond pine (P. serotina). Shrub species include saw palmetto (Serenoa repens), gallberry (Ilex glabra), wax myrtle (Myrica cerifera), salt bush (Baccharis spp.) and rusty lyonia (Lyonia ferruginea).
421 Xeric Oak - Forested uplands within the site meet the Xeric Oak (421) FLUCFCS classification, Vegetation within this land use type includes live oak (Quercus virginiana), sand pine (Pinus clausa), longleaf pine (Pinus palustrus), slash pine (Pinus elliottii), sand live oak (Quercus geminata), myrtle oak (Quercus myrtifolia), rusty lyonia (Lyonia ferruginea), and saw palmetto (Serenoa repens).
427 Live Oak - Uplands best meeting the Live Oak (427) FLUCFCS classification occur through the central portion of the site. Vegetation within this land use includes live oak (Quercus virginiana), laurel oak (Quercus laurifolia), southern magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora), camphor tree (Cinnamomum camphora), Chinese tallow (Sapium sebiferum) and slash pine (Pinus elliottii). Subcanopy and groundcover species include saw palmetto (Serenoa repens), American beautyberry (Callicarpa americana) and bracken fern (Pteridium spp.).
534 Reservoirs - Several cattle ponds, borrow ponds and ditches, cut from uplands, are present on the site. These are best classified as Reservoirs (534) per the FLUCFCS. Vegetation found within this land use type includes cattail (Typha spp.) torpedo grass (Panicum repens), water pennywort (Hydrocotyle spp.), spadeleaf (Centella asiatica), soft rush (Juncus effusus) and water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes). Ditches averaged approximately 15 feet in width.
630 Wetland Forested Mixed - Various forested wetland areas are present on site and best meet the Wetland Forested Mixed (630) FLUCFCS classification. Vegetation present within this land use type includes live oak (Quercus virginiana), laurel oak (Quercus laurifolia), water oak (Quercus nigra), slash pine (Pinus elliottii), southern magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora), red maple (Acer rubrum), sabal palmetto (Sabal palmetto), sweet bay (Magnolia virginiana), cypress (Taxodium spp.), dahoon holly (Ilex cassine), guava (Psidium spp.), camphortree (Cinnamomus camphora), and Chinese tallow (Triadica sebifera). Subcanopy and ground cover species include saw palmetto (Serenoa repens), highbush blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum), fetterbush (Lyonia lucida), wax myrtle (Myrica cerifera), swamp fern (Telmatoblechnum serrulatum), cinnamon fern (Osmunda cinnamomeum), and lizards’ tail (Saururus cernuus).
641 Freshwater Marsh - Numerous isolated, depressional, freshwater marsh wetlands occur throughout the project boundary and best meet the Freshwater Marsh (641) FLUCFCS classification. Vegetation within this land use type includes cattail (Typha spp.), torpedo grass (Panicum repens), water pennywort (Hydrocotyle spp.), spadeleaf (Centella asiatica), soft rush (Juncus effusus), pickerel weed (Pontedaria cordata), maidencane (Panicum hemitomon) and duck potato (Sagittaria latifolia).
643 Wet Prairie - Additional herbaceous wetland systems are best described as Wet Prairie (643) per the FLUCFCS. Bahia grass (Paspalum notatum), dominates the majority of these systems while other species including cut grass (Leersia spp.), blue maidencane (Amphicarpum muhlenbergianum), pennywort (Hydrocotyle), spadeleaf (Centella asiatica), softrush (Juncus effusus), broomsedge (Andropogon virginicus) and bushy bluestem (Andropogon glomeratus).
PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks authorization to impact 88.70-acres of WOTUS (78.41-acres of wetlands; 10.29-acres of surface waters) for construction of the Edgewater West development.
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 Edgewater West development was designed to meet requirements of the East of Lake Toho Element of the Osceola County 2040 Comprehensive Plan. The applicant evaluated three off-site alternatives but these sites were not practicable in meeting the overall project purpose. The current design achieves required land-use densities, mixed-uses, transportation connectivity and a navigation element that allows lake access while minimizing impacts to Lake Tohopekaliga (i.e., provisions for a boat lift rather than an in situ marina). The proposed road on the berm between Wetlands 1 and 2 is required to maintain connectivity and allow traffic flow between the Edgewater West and Edgewater East projects, while also allowing access to north-south transportation corridors (i.e., Cross Prairie Parkway and Tohoqua Parkway West). Comprehensive Plan Policy 2-1.1.5 established a Lake Toho Protection Area (LTPA) measuring 250 ft minimum, 500 ft average from elevation 55 NGVD. The LTPA is incorporated into the Open Space District. Pursuant to Land Development Code Article 3.13.H, the Open Space District is intended for regional, community and neighborhood parks, natural resources (wetlands, habitat protection areas), stormwater facilities, nature centers and wildlife observation places to include trails, boardwalk, piers, pavilions and gardens. No buildings are allowed in this area except for non-vehicular public access for fishing & recreation. The proposed stormwater retention ponds and boat launch facility are located within the LTPA because those are the types of uses the county intended when they approved the ELTCMP. Retention ponds on the eastern portion of the site will allow navigation to the boat lift, thereby allowing navigation access to Lake Tohopekaliga.
The current design configuration was evaluated during planning of the proposed development and it achieves the most efficient use of the land while considering the long-term effects of any natural resource impacts. The design planning process led to a final product which provides a wetland preservation area on the eastern portion of the site which is contiguous with Lake Tohopekaliga. With the exception of Wetlands 1 and 2 (totaling 173.19-acres), all other project wetlands are degraded and/or geographically isolated from high quality natural communities. Preserving these wetland systems in place (surrounded by development) would result in continued wetland degradation over time because they cannot be managed. This loss of function would not be mitigated, since no fill would occur in these systems, and this “net loss of wetlands” is counter to federal wetland policy. Pursuant to the 404(b)(1) Guidelines, this alternative will result in fewer adverse environmental consequences [40 CFR Part 230(Subpart B)(230.10(a)].
Of the total ±1,219-acre site, the project contains 284.04-acres of wetlands and 10.29-acres of altered surface waters (ditches/ponds). The project proposes impacts to 78.41-acres of wetlands, which is 27.6 percent of the total project wetlands.”
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION: The applicant has offered the following compensatory mitigation plan to offset unavoidable functional loss to the aquatic environment:
“The 88.70-acres of wetland and surface water impacts will be evaluated using the appropriate wetland assessment methodology and the requisite number of credits purchased at a federal wetland mitigation bank.”
CULTURAL RESOURCES: The Corps is aware of recorded historic resources 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 Corps has completed preliminary federally listed species affect determinations which include the following:
The Corps has determined the proposal may affect the Eastern Indigo Snake (Drymarchon corais couperi) and Everglades Snail Kite (Rostrhamus sociabilis plumbeus) and/or their designated critical habitat. The Corps will request initiation of formal consultation with the Fish and Wildlife Service/National Marine Fisheries 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 Audubon's Crested Caracara (Caracara cheriway), Eastern Black Rail (Laterallus jamaicensis ssp. Jamaicensis), Florida Bonneted Bat (Eumops floridanus), Florida Grasshopper Sparrow (Ammodramus savannarum floridanus), Florida Scrub Jay (Aphelocoma coerulescens), Red-cockaded Woodpecker (Picoides borealis), sand skink (Pleistodon reynoldsi) and blue-tailed mole skink (Eumeces egregius lividus), and Wood Stork (Mycteria americana), and/or their designated critical habitat. The Corps will request U.S. Fish and Wildlife/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 88.70-acres of palustrine WOTUS (78.41-acres of wetlands; 10.29-acres of surface waters) which ultimately discharge to Lake Tohopekaliga. Our initial determination is that the proposed action would not have a substantial adverse impact on downstream 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 (NMFS).
Navigation: The proposed activity is not located in the vicinity of a federal navigation channel.
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, will 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 Cocoa Permits Section, 400 High Point Drive, Suite 600, Cocoa, Florida 32926, 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, John Baehre, in writing at the Cocoa Permits Section, 400 High Point Drive, Cocoa, Florida 32926, by electronic mail at John.M.Baehre@usace.army.mil or by telephone at (321)504-3771 extension 0011.
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 Florida Department of Environmental Protection and/or the South Florida Water Management District. This public notice serves as the notification to the EPA pursuant to section 401(a)(2) of the Clean Water Act.
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.