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 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 (33 U.S.C. §403) as described below:
APPLICANT: Holy Trinity Episcopal Church of West Palm Beach, Inc.
Attn: John Proctor
211 Trinity Place
West Palm Beach, Florida 33401
WATERWAY & LOCATION: The project is located within navigable waters of the United States in the Lake Worth Lagoon adjacent to Flagler Drive and State Road 704, Section 22, Township 43 South, Range 43 East, Palm Beach County, Florida.
Directions to the site are as follows: From Interstate 95 in Palm Beach County, exit onto Okeechobee Boulevard (State Road 704). Travel east to Flagler Drive, then north on Flagler Drive approximately 0.5 mile. The site is located just north of the Royal Park Bridge.
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES:
Basic: The basic project purpose is to provide public boating access.
Overall: The overall project purpose is to provide boating access in proximity to a public park in central Lake Worth Lagoon, Palm Beach County, Florida.
EXISTING CONDITIONS and project history: The Department of the Army permit dated May 22, 2017, authorized the construction of a 48,855 square foot dock supporting 40 vessels referred to as South Cove with an expiration date of May 9, 2022. The Corps authorized a 2-year time extension on 20 December 2022 for a permit expiration date of May 9, 2024. None of the authorized work has commenced.
The project site is located within the Lake Worth Lagoon, which is a tidal estuarine system. The proposed site of the multi-slip dock is located adjacent to Trinity Park, which is a passive park that features street side parking, benches, and an Intracoastal overlook. A 560 linear foot boardwalk extends from the seawall to a spoil island referred to as South Cove Natural Area Boardwalk. The public is able to use the boardwalk for daytime recreational viewing. The shoreline along the project site is stabilized by a vertical bulkhead. An aquatic vegetation survey was conducted in August 2022 and indicated paddle grass (Halophilia decipiens) was occurring in several areas from the seawall extending waterward to the rock pile situated in the central portion of the site but is not within the survey area. Shallow water depths, ranging from 4 to 6-feet, existed throughout much of the western portion of the survey area and provided suitable seagrass habitat. H. decipiens patches were observed extended out 220 feet off the bulkhead with sporadic beds ranging from 5-20 feet in width. The seagrass is not located within the direct footprint of the proposed docking structures.
The project borders the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW). South Cove Natural area boardwalk and natural islands are located to the north, the Royal Park Bridge is located to the south, commercial development is located to the west, while the ICW is located to the east.
PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks authorization to extend the existing permit authorization date for an additional five years. The existing authorized project is to construct a 49,968 square foot public dock supporting 40 vessels. The dock would attach to public lands, all 40 proposed wet slips will be rented. The dock is intended to be used by the public on a first come basis for slip rental accessing Trinity Park by boat and can utilize the adjacent boardwalk.
The proposed marina has a maximum depth of -8 foot MLW. All vessels utilizing the marina will operate within sufficient water depths to prevent bottom scouring and provide adequate clearance to resources. Typical vessels utilizing this marina are anticipated to draft 2-foot to 4-feet. No dredging is proposed.
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:
“Best management practices would be utilized to limit turbidity while construction activities are being conducted by utilizing turbidity screens. The applicant will monitor turbidity upstream and downstream of the turbidity curtains to ensure water quality standards are met.”
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION: The applicant has offered the following compensatory mitigation plan to offset unavoidable functional loss to the aquatic environment:
“Since the project will not impact seagrasses or other aquatic resources, compensatory mitigation is not required.”
CULTURAL RESOURCES: The Corps is not aware of any known historic properties within the Permit Area. By copy of this public notice, the Corps is providing information for review. Our final determination relative to historic resource impacts is subject to review by and coordination with the State Historic Preservation Officer and those federally recognized tribes with concerns in Florida and the Permit Area.
ENDANGERED SPECIES: The project site is accessible to the endangered West Indian manatee (Trichechus manatus). The Corps has determined the in-water construction work may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect manatee. Use of The Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District and the State of Florida Effect Determination Key for the Manatee in Florida dated April 2013 results in a path of A-B-C-G-N-O-P (paragraph 4). Provided the applicant adheres to the standard manatee construction conditions during the in-water work, the key results in a may affect, not likely to adversely affect determination and no further consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is necessary. The project is not located within the species designated critical habitat.
The Corps has determined the proposed project may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect the North Atlantic right whale (Eubalaena glacialis), Giant Manta Ray (Manta birostris), smalltooth sawfish (Pristis pectinata), swimming sea turtles: the threatened green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas), the endangered Kemp’s ridley sea turtle (Lepidochelys kempii), and the threatened loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta). During the review of the most recent permit modification dated December 2022, the Corps received programmatic concurrence with these determinations utilizing the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) JAXBO and therefore no further consultation with NMFS is necessary.
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 shade approximately 49,968 square feet of unvegetated benthic habitat utilized by various life stages of penaeid shrimp complex, red drum, 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 Lake Worth Lagoon. 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: All proposed structures are offset a minimum distance of 100 feet from the edge of the federal channel to avoid any impacts or impedances to navigation.
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.
AUTHORIZATION FROM OTHER AGENCIES: Water Quality Certification may be required from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.
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, Suite 500, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida 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 Linda Knoeck in writing at the Palm Beach Gardens Permits Section, 4400 PGA Boulevard, Suite 500, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida 33410; by electronic mail at Linda.C.Knoeck@usace.army.mil.
IMPACT ON NATURAL RESOURCES: Preliminary review of this application indicates that an Environmental Impact Statement will not be required. 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. By means of this notice, we are soliciting comments on the potential effects of the project on threatened or endangered species or their habitat.
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 of the criteria established under authority of Section 102(a) of the Marine Protection Research and Sanctuaries Act of 1972. A permit will be granted unless its issuance is found to be contrary to the public interest.
The 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 decision, comments are used to assess impacts on endangered species, historic properties, water quality, general environmental effects, and the other public interest factors listed above. Comments are used in the preparation of an Environmental Assessment and/or an Environmental Impact Statement pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act comments are also used to determine the need for a public hearing and to determine the overall public interest of the proposed activity.
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.