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SAJ-2017-03130 (SP-TMM)

Jacksonville District
Published May 17, 2024

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) as described below:

 

APPLICANT:  Pulte Home Company, LLC.

                        Attention: Justin Dudley

                        12724 Gran Bay Parkway West, Suite 200

                         Jacksonville, Florida 32258

 

WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect waters of the United States associated with Little Black Creek. The project site is located south of Blanding Boulevard/State Road (SR) 21, east of Knight Boxx Road and west of Tumbleweed Drive, Sections 27 and 40, Township 4 South, Range 25 East, Orange Park, Clay County, Florida.

 

Directions to the site are as follows:  From downtown Jacksonville, travel west on Interstate (I) 95 and veer off onto I-10. Travel south on SR 23/First Coast Connector. At the intersection with Blanding Boulevard/SR 21, take a left and travel north. Turn right onto Venture Lane and dead end into the property.

 

APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES:         Latitude      30.123626°

                                                                                 Longitude -81.792817°

 

PROJECT PURPOSE:

 

Basic:  The basic project purpose is residential housing.

 

Overall: The overall project purpose is a residential development in Orange Park, Clay County, Florida.

 

EXISTING CONDITIONS: The wetland system consists of a palustrine freshwater system. The site is 24.22 acres and is undeveloped except for a shed sales business to the northwest and a borrow pond  on the southwest corner. To the east is a residential development, to the west is a trailer residential development, and to the south is a multi-family apartment community.

 

a. Soils: The Soil Survey of Clay County (U.S. Department of Agriculture, Soil Conservation Service 1989) indicates that the property primarily contains three types of soil as depicted on Figure 4 and described below.

 

    i. Penney fine sand: Approximately 8.77 acres at the northern end of the property are mapped as Penney fine sand. This is a nearly level to gently sloping, excessively drained soil that naturally occurs on sandhills. The seasonal high water table is more than 72 inches below the ground surface.

 

    ii. Hurricane fine sand: Approximately 2.80 acres along the southeastern edge of the property are mapped as Hurricane fine sand. This is a nearly level to gently sloping, somewhat poorly drained soil that naturally occurs on slight rises in the pine flatwoods and in transitional areas between the sandhills and pine flatwoods. The seasonal high water table is generally between 24 and 40 inches below the ground surface. This soil has a layer of dark colored, weakly cemented sand known as a spodic horizon that starts more than 30 inches below the ground surface.

 

    iii. Allanton and Rutlege mucky fine sand, depressional: Approximately 12.51 acres extending through the center of the property are mapped as Allanton and Rutlege mucky fine sand, depressional. This soil is nearly level and very poorly drained and naturally occurs in depressional wetlands. In an undisturbed condition this soil is covered with water for 6 months or more during most years. This mapping unit comprises a mixture of Allanton fine sand and Rutlege mucky fine sand. Allanton fine sand has a spodic horizon that starts more than 30 inches below the ground surface. Rutlege mucky fine sand does not have a spodic horizon but does have a surface layer of mucky fine sand. The true extent of Allanton and Rutlege mucky fine sand, depressional differs from what is depicted in the soil survey. A portion of this mapping unit was excavated many years ago for a borrow pit. Portions of this mapping unit also contain another soil type such as Leon fine sand which is a poorly drained soil typical of upland pine flatwoods.

 

b. Existing Vegetation and Land Uses: The existing vegetative communities and land uses have been characterized pursuant to the Florida Department of Transportation publication Florida Land Use, Cover and Forms Classification System (FLUCFCS) as depicted on Figure 5 and described below. The extent of wetlands and other surface waters was approved by the St. Johns River Water Management District (SJRWMD) pursuant to formal jurisdictional determination #151697-2 which was issued on September 7, 2023. The site is 24.22 acres in size.

 

    i. Commercial and Services (FLUCFCS 140) 1.14 acres: The project site contains a strip of land along the northwestern boundary that is currently being used by the adjacent business, Handi-House, that sells portable sheds and storage buildings. This portion of the property contains product for sale and part of a circular dirt driveway.

 

    ii. Pine Flatwoods (FLUCFCS 411) 14.36 acres: Most of the uplands comprise pine flatwoods. The flatwoods were almost all clear cut within the past 10 years. The canopy and subcanopy includes such species as slash pine (Pinus elliottii), longleaf pine (P. palustris), water oak (Quercus nigra), laurel oak (Q. laurifolia) and southern magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora). The shrub layer and ground cover vegetation include such species as saw palmetto (Serenoa repens), bitter gallberry (Ilex glabra) and bracken fern (Pteridium aquilinum).

 

    iii. Longleaf Pine – Xeric Oak (FLUCFCS 412) 2.06 acres: The northwest corner of the property contains an area of sandhill that was clear cut around 30 years ago. The canopy and subcanopy include such species as longleaf pine and turkey oak (Quercus laevis). The shrub layer and ground cover vegetation include such species as runner oak (Quercus pumila), scattered saw palmetto, reindeer moss (Cladonia sp.), and bracken fern.

 

    iv. Trail Road (FLUCFCS 814) 0.28 acre: A dirt road extends diagonally through the center of the property from Venture Lane to the borrow pit and may have originally served as a haul road when the borrow pit was being excavated. No culvert under this road has been identified where it crosses the wetland.

 

    v. Wetland Forested Mixed/Hydric Pine Flatwoods 3.62 acres: (FLUCFCS 630/625): According to the applicant, the property contains two wetlands: W1 (1.60 acres) and W2 (2.02 acres). Both of these wetlands and the adjacent borrow pit historically formed part of an unnamed headwater of Little Black Creek and drained from the northeast to the southwest. This wetland continues to drain offsite to the south through the adjacent apartment complex and then west under Knight Boxx Road before discharging into a portion of Little Black Creek. The canopy and subcanopy of the onsite wetland includes such species as loblolly bay (Gordonia lasianthus), sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua), red maple (Acer rubrum), laurel oak, sweet bay (Magnolia virginiana), blackgum (Nyssa sylvatica var. biflora), pond cypress (Taxodium ascendens), and slash pine. The shrub layer and ground cover vegetation include such species as fetterbush (Lyonia lucida), titi (Cyrilla racemiflora), sweet gallberry (Ilex coriacea), waxmyrtle (Myrica cerifera), Virginia willow (Itea virginica), red root (Lachnanthes caroliniana), cinnamon fern (Osmunda cinnamomea), Virginia chain fern (Woodwardia virginica), and beak rush (Rhynchospora spp.). The wetland has a seasonal high water table near the ground surface but no longer holds standing or flowing water like it originally did before the drainage alterations occurred both upstream and downstream.

 

    vi. Borrow Pit (FLUCFCS 524) 2.68 acres: The property contains a rectangular-shaped borrow pit adjacent to the southern boundary. A fringe of the original wetland extends around the perimeter of the borrow pit. The borrow pit also contains a littoral fringe of wetlands including such species as torpedo grass (Panicum repens), bladderwort (Utricularia sp.), and buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis).

 

    vii. Ditch (FLUCFCS 510) 0.08 acre: The property contains a section of dry, upland-cut, man-made ditch near the northeast corner of the site. This ditch appears to serve as the outfall for the adjacent shopping center to the north.

 

PROPOSED WORK:  The applicant seeks authorization to place 3,614-cubic-yards of fill into 1.12 acres of waters of the United States (palustrine forested wetlands) that the applicant has presented as jurisdictional to the Corps and 1.68-acres of aquatic resources (1.60-acre of palustrine forested wetlands and 0.08-acre of a ditch) that the applicant has presented to the Corps as non jurisdictional through a request for an approved jurisdictional determination. The Corps has not yet verified the jurisdiction of aquatic resources on site.

 

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 original site plan included a total of 177 townhome units (Plan A). All of the wetlands and other surface waters (6.38 acres) would have been impacted, which would have included 4.70 acres of WOTUS impacts and 1.68 acres of non-WOTUS impacts. The existing borrow pit in the southern half of the property would have been incorporated into the stormwater system in order to create one large lake which would have created more waterfront units. Another version of the plan also would have included a total of 177 townhome units (Plan B). A total of 4.5 acres of wetlands and other surface waters would have been impacted, which would have included 2.82 acres of WOTUS impacts and 1.68 acres of non-WOTUS impacts. The final site plan includes 176 townhome units which will require direct impacts to 1.12 acres of WOTUS wetlands and 1.68 acres of non-WOTUS wetlands. The site plan modifications have reduced impacts to WOTUS wetlands and surface waters from 4.70 acres to 2.82 acres to 1.12 acres while still accomplishing the project purpose.”

 

COMPENSATORY MITIGATION – The applicant has offered the following compensatory mitigation plan to offset unavoidable functional loss to the aquatic environment:

 

“The proposed impacts have been evaluated pursuant to both the Wetland Rapid Assessment Procedure (WRAP) and the Uniform Mitigation Assessment Methodology (UMAM). Copies of the WRAP and UMAM data forms will be provided under separate cover. Mitigation for the proposed impacts will be accomplished through the purchase of either WRAP or UMAM credits from a mitigation bank that serves the project area.”

 

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 eastern indigo snake (Drymarchon couperi).  Therefore, no additional consultation is required.  

 

The Corps has determined the proposed project may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect the tricolored bat (Perimyotis subflavus). The Corps will work with the applicant to determine whether the proposed work would be completed prior to any federal listing of the tricolored bat, whether the applicant would request U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service  concurrence with this determination pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act or whether the Corps would 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 the Whooping Crane (Grus americana) and Eastern Black Rail (Laterallus jamaicensis ssp. jamaicensis).

 

ESSENTIAL FISH HABITAT (EFH): The project is located in palustrine forested wetlands that are inland of waters considered to be EFH; therefore, the proposed project would not have a substantial adverse impact on EFH. 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 would 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 Jacksonville Permits Section, at the address located in the letterhead above, 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, Terri M. Mashour, in writing at the Jacksonville Permits Section, at the address located in the letterhead above; by electronic mail at Terri.M.Mashour@usace.army.mil; or, by telephone at (904) 251-9179. 

 

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:  After reviewing all available information pertaining to the completed work, the Department of the Army has not recommended legal action at this time.  Final determination regarding legal action will be made after review of the project through the permit procedure. 

 

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 St. Johns River Water Management District.

 

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.