Public Notice Notifications

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Florida - This includes all public notices for projects being reviewed for Standard Permits within the State of Florida.

Antilles - This includes all public notices for projects being reviewed for Standard Permits within the Antilles area (this includes Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands).

Tropical Storms & Other Emergencies - These public notices provide information on procedures for emergency permitting requirements due to specific tropical storm events or other emergency situations.

Special Issues - These are public notices that involve the Regulatory program but which are generally not limited to one particular geographic area. These would include public notices for the establishment or modification of Restricted Areas/Danger Zones, re-issuance of General Permits or Nationwide Permits, changes to guidance and policies, etc.

Administrative Penalty - These public notices provide information associated with Administrative Penalties. An Administrative Penalty can be assessed to address violations associated with issued Department of the Army permits.

SAJ-2023-00952 (SP-JPF)

U. S. Army Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville FL
Published Oct. 18, 2023
Expiration date: 11/8/2023

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:  City of Punta Gorda
                       c/o Mr. Gregory Murray
                       326 West Marion Avenue
                       Punta Gorda, FL 33950

 

WATERWAY AND LOCATION:  The project would affect waters of the United States associated with the Ponce de Leon Inlet Channel and Charlotte Harbor.  The project site is located directly south of the City’s existing dredged material management area (the Colony Point DMMA) on the west side of Colony Point Drive in Punta Gorda Isles, and 200 feet directly west of the vacant lot at 2861 Don Quixote Drive, in Section 15, Township 41 South, Range 22 East, in Punta Gorda, Charlotte County, Florida.

Directions to the site are as follows:  From I-75, take the US-17 exit to US-17/Duncan Road, take Duncan west until it becomes Marion Avenue, take Marion to Colony Point Drive, take Colony Point south to site.

APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES:   
Latitude       26.910402        
Longitude  -82.087407    

 

PROJECT PURPOSE: Basic:  Provide a site with navigable access for the loading and unloading of construction barges.

Overall:  Provide a site with navigable access for the loading and unloading of construction barges for the City of Punta Gorda’s seawall maintenance and maintenance dredging activities, with access to the Colony Point DMMA. 

EXISTING CONDITIONS:  The wetland system consists of a 90-foot-wide mangrove fringe (at the project location) landward of a 2.75-acre shallow tidal basin connected to a dredged navigation channel that connects the Punta Gorda Isles canal system on the east to Charlotte Harbor on the west. The mangroves are contiguous with an approximately 1200-acre section of the Charlotte Harbor Preserve State Park that borders the west and south sides of Punta Gorda Isles, north of Alligator Creek. The tidal basin connects to the channel on its south side. The applicant stated that based on a benthic survey performed in September 2021, there are only a few area of sparse seagrass (Halodule wrightii) in the basin. The applicant states that they have used the Colony Point DMMA for many years to handle spoil from dredging activities in the adjacent areas. The applicant also stated that they currently transport dredged material by barge to vacant lots, transfer the spoil to trucks, and then transport it to the DMMA.    

PROPOSED WORK:  The applicant seeks authorization to discharge 400 cubic yards of fill material into 5322 square feet (sf) of waters of the United States (3432 sf above the Mean High Water Line (MHWL) and 1890 sf below the MHWL) for the construction of a barge landing, with 270 linear feet of seawall/retaining wall around the landing, and five 12” diameter wood pilings at the waterward end as a fender system. The barge landing will be 40’ wide, 123’ long on the west side, and 100’ long on the east side. The Corps also expects the construction of the barge landing to require approximately 1140 sf of secondary impact associated with clearing mangroves along the sides of the barge landing during construction.

The applicant also proposes to dredge 4665 cubic yards of material to a depth of -5’ Mean Low Water to create a 35,710 sf/0.82 acre access channel and turning basin, install a 120’ sheet piling/vertical piling backstop below the existing adjacent grade to address prop wash from push boats, and install pilings for channel markers for the access channels and for aids to navigation to identify the submerged/buried backstop.

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 applicant stated that they will incorporate best management practices during all phases of construction to prevent the spread of turbidity outside of the enclosed work area. Floating turbidity curtains with weighted skirts extending to the bottom will be installed around the work zone to enclose all construction. Silt screens will be installed to manage the upland construction. All turbidity control measures will remain in place until construction is complete and turbidity levels are compliant with State standards. Turbidity will be visually monitored. Upon completion of all in-water work and turbidity levels meeting state standards, the turbidity curtains and silt screens would be removed.  The applicant also stated they minimized impacts by reducing the width of the barge landing to the minimum necessary to allow a front-end loader to move to a barge at the landing, pick up spoil material, turn 180 degrees, and carry the spoil to the DMMA.

COMPENSATORY MITIGATION – The applicant has offered the following compensatory mitigation plan to offset unavoidable functional loss to the aquatic environment:  The applicant states that they will purchase mitigation credits from the Little Pine Island Mitigation Bank (SAJ-1994-00037) to compensate for the mangrove impacts. They also stated that they will place reef balls inside the barge backstop as compensatory mitigation for seagrass impacts, if necessary.

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 project is within designated critical habitat for the smalltooth sawfish and the West Indian manatee, within the core foraging area of at least one wood stork colony, and within the consultation area for the Florida bonneted bat. The project is within the range of, and has suitable habitat for, the eastern indigo snake. The project has the potential to affect the smalltooth sawfish, sawfish critical habitat (CH), and swimming green, loggerhead, and Kemp’s ridley sea turtles.

Florida bonneted bat: The mangroves in the impact area are not large (33’ tall, 8” diameter at breast height) trees with cavity elevations higher than 16’ and various features such as hollows or loose bark. There are no artificial structures in the impact area. The areas above the mangroves and the tidal basin could provide some foraging habitat, other than being a source of drinking water. Using the October 22, 2019, consultation key for the bonneted bat, the Corps determined that the proposed project would have no effect (1a>2b>13b) on the bonneted bat. No further consultation is necessary.

Wood stork: The May 18, 2010, effect determination key for the wood stork in south Florida states that suitable foraging habitat includes a variety of emergent wetlands and shallow open-water areas, including narrow tidal creeks and shallow tidal pools in estuarine areas. Based on the consultation key, the Corps determined that the project will not affect suitable foraging habitat for the wood stork, and using the key, determined that the proposed project will have no effect (A). No further consultation is necessary.

Eastern indigo snake: The mangrove habitat onsite provides suitable habitat for indigo snakes. Based on available information, the Corps would not expect there to be any holes, cavities, or other underground refugia within the project area. A permit, if issued, will include the most recent Standard Protection Measures for the Eastern Indigo Snake. Using the August 1, 2017, consultation key for the indigo snake in south Florida, the Corps determined that the proposed project is not likely to adversely affect the indigo snake (A>B>C>D). No further consultation is necessary.

West Indian manatee: Manatees could potentially access the project area in its current condition; they will definitely be able to access the area in the proposed condition. Boat and barge traffic from the completed barge landing could lead to manatee impacts. The April 2013 consultation key for the manatee does not include projects of this type, however with consideration of the types of activities described in the key and the information about the project as described in this notice, the Corps determined that the proposed project may affect the manatee (A>B). The Corps will request initiation of formal consultation with the Fish and Wildlife Service  pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act by separate letter.

Sawfish, Sturgeon, Swimming Sea Turtles: The Corps evaluated the proposed work utilizing NMFS’s Jacksonville District’s Programmatic Biological Opinion (JAXBO) dated 20 November 2017, including consideration of the Project Design Criteria (PDCs) identified in the JAXBO that typically have been applied to permitted in-water construction activities. These PDCs ensure effects of in-water construction activities are minimal in nature and do not result in adverse effects to listed species or to essential features of designated CH.

The proposed barge landing is not one of the ten categories of minor in-water activities covered by the JAXBO. In addition, the proposed dredging of the new channel does not meet PDC A3.1.2.3, and the proposed barge backstop does not meet PDC A2.1.1. The Corps will include the NMFS’ “Protected Species Construction Conditions, NOAA Fisheries Southeast Regional Office” dated May 2021, in its permit, if issued. The Corps has determined that the project may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect the smalltooth sawfish and green, loggerhead, and Kemp’s ridley sea turtles, and may affect sawfish critical habitat, and will request initiation of formal consultation with the NMFS pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act 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 proposal would directly impact approximately 0.94 acre of mangroves and subtidal estuarine habitat utilized by various life stages of federally managed species in the Gulf of Mexico.  Our initial determination is that the proposed action would have a substantial adverse impact on EFH or Federally managed fisheries in the Gulf of Mexico.  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 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, 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 Tampa Permits Section, 10117 Princess Palm Avenue, Suite 120, Tampa, Florida, 33610-8302 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 Fellows, in writing at the Tampa Permits Section, 10117 Princess Palm Avenue, Suite 120, Tampa, Florida, 33610-8302; by electronic mail at john.p.fellows@usace.army.mil; or, by telephone at (813) 769-7070. 

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. 0434162-001.

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.