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SAJ-2002-02970 (SP-TMM)

Jacksonville District
Published May 24, 2024
Expiration date: 6/17/2024

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:  City of Jacksonville

                        Attention: Steven Long

                        214 North Hogan Street

                        Jacksonville, Florida 32202


WATERWAY AND LOCATION:  The project would affect waters of the United States contiguous to Rowell Creek and Yellow Water Creek.  The project site is located at the Cecil Commerce Center, next to the Equestrian Center, at 13611 Normandy Boulevard, Sections 9, 10, and 16, Township 3 South, Range 24 East, Jacksonville, Duval County, Florida.


Directions to the site are as follows:  To access the site from downtown Jacksonville, travel north on Interstate 95 and exit onto Interstate 10 west. Exit onto State Road (SR) 23/First Coast Expressway and travel south. Exit onto 228/Normandy Boulevard and travel southwest. The project site is located at 13611 Normandy Boulevard on the north side of the road east of the Jacksonville Equestrian Center.


APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES:         Latitude     30.242483°

                                                                                      Longitude -81.902086°




Basic:  The basic project purpose is public recreation.


Overall:  The overall project purpose is to relocate the Jacksonville Fairgrounds at the Cecil Commerce Center for public recreation on the west side of Jacksonville, Duval County, Florida.




a. The wetland system consists of a palustrine, forested system. The existing area surrounding the project area consists of undeveloped palustrine forested wetlands, the Jacksonville Equestrian Center with building infrastructure and fields, a public park with a building structure, baseball/softball fields, and parking as was well as Normandy Boulevard. The project site is 80.39 acres in size. Phase 2 is 47.81 acres in size and is somewhat linear in shape and is proposed for a new road that would run from Fingerlake Street west and then south to the proposed Jacksonville Fairgrounds location. Phase 3 is 32.86 acres in size and would host the Jacksonville Fairgrounds main attractions.


b. Soils: The Soil Survey of City of Jacksonville, Duval County, Florida (U.S. Department of

Agriculture – Natural Resource Conservation Service) identifies seven soil types at the

project site. These soil types are Ardents, nearly level (Soil Identification No. 7); Leon fine

sand (32); Mascotte-Pelham complex (44); Pelham fine sand (51); Sapelo fine sand (63); Surrency loamy fine sand, depressional (66); and Surrency loamy fine sand, frequently

flooded (67). Mapped soils are depicted on Exhibit 2.


c. Vegetative Communities: Communities: Land use/land cover types were identified within and around the project, as depicted on Exhibit 3. These communities were classified using the FDOT Florida Land Use, Cover and Forms Classification System (FLUCFCS, 1999). The on-site wetlands were delineated pursuant to Corps of Engineers Wetlands Delineation Manual (1987) and Regional Supplement to the Corps of Engineers Wetland Delineation Manual: Atlantic and Gulf Coastal Plain Region (Version 2.0) (2010).


    i. Recreational (FLUCFCS 180; 9.40 ac.±) – The site includes redevelopment of four baseball fields constructed as part of the Jacksonville Equestrian Center (USACE Permit No. SAJ-2002-02970).


    ii. Pine Flatwoods (FLUCFCS 411; 62.17 ac.±) – This habitat types includes a canopy of slash pine (Pinus elliottii) and loblolly pine (Pinus taeda) with inclusions of loblolly bay (Gordonia lasianthus) and live oak (Quercus virginiana). Groundcover species included saw palmetto (Serenoa repens), gallberry (Ilex glabra), shiny blueberry (Vaccinium myrsinites), scattered Virginia chain fern (Woodwardia virginica), blackberry (Rubus spp.) and grapevine (Vitis spp.). Evidence of previous roads and other improvements are present throughout the site.


    iii. Upland-cut Ditch (FLUCFCS 511; 2.32) – Several upland-cut ditches are located throughout the property along interior trail roads and Normandy Boulevard. These ditches are primarily associated with the previous use of the site as part of NAS Cecil Field and are typically parallel to old road networks within the site.


    iv. Wetland Coniferous Mixed (FLUCFCS 620; 0.33 ac.±) – This classification describes two wetlands located on the project site. Vegetation within the wetlands include slash pine,

cabbage palm (Sabal palmetto), Virginia chainfern (Woodwardia virginica), St. Johns Wort

(Hypericum spp.), royal fern (Osmunda regalis), and maidencane (Panicum hemitomon).


    v. Hydric Pine Flatwoods (FLUCFCS 625; 4.07 ac.±) – The majority of on-site wetlands are pine-dominated flatwoods communities. The canopy dominated by slash pine and loblolly pine with interspersed pockets of tupelo (Nyssa biflora) and a subcanopy comprised of hardwood species including water oak (Quercus nigra), sweetgum (Liquidambar

styraciflua), red maple (Acer rubrum), myrtle-leaf holly (Ilex myrtifolia), and loblolly bay.

Ground cover includes hydrophytic ferns, dense fetterbush (Lyonia lucida), and saw



    vi. Roads and Highways (FLUCFCS 814; 2.09 ac.±) – This classification describes areas of the property in the right-of-way of Normandy Boulevard.


    vii. Reservoirs Less Than 10 acres (FLUCFCS 534; 0.01 ac.) – This classification describes an area of the property that has a borrow area.



a. The site was previously part of Naval Air Station (NAS) Cecil Field. NAS Cecil Field was decommissioned in 1999 and subsequently sold to the City of Jacksonville as a commercial epicenter known as Cecil Commerce Center (CCC). The Cecil Commerce Center was authorized under SAJ-2019-00374. The area of the proposed Jacksonville Fairgrounds was not included in the Cecil Commerce Center Authorization. Impacts within the area of the Jacksonville Fairgrounds were originally authorized under SAJ-2002-02970 for the Jacksonville Equestrian Center on October 17, 2002.


b. Initial permitting efforts for the relocation of the Jacksonville Fairgrounds were initiated with the Corps in 2011. While these permitting efforts had reached a point where the Corps had provided a Letter of Intent to Issue pending submittal of the State Section 401 Water Quality Certification, the applicant’s pursuit of the St. Johns River Water Management District (SJRWMD) permit was placed on hold in 2014.


c. The City of Jacksonville re-initiated permitting efforts with SJRWMD and Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) under the State 404 Program (62-331, F.A.C.) in 2023. A SJRWMD permit (Permit No. 70452-130) was issued in April 2023 allowing for the clearing and grading of Phase 1. FDEP did not issue any written verification or determination of the absence of waters of the United States for Phase 1; clearing of Phase 1 was initiated in May 2023.


d. An application was submitted jointly to SJRWMD and FDEP on April 14, 2023 for authorization to clear and grade Phases 2 and 3 of the fairground relocation site. SJRWMD Permit No. 70452-133 was issued on January 30, 2024 authorizing this activity. On February 16, 2024, the FDEP State 404 program was vacated by the

U.S. District Court. The application was then submitted to the Corps on April 27, 2024 for processing.


PROPOSED WORK:  The applicant seeks authorization to place 19,500-cubic-yards (3,500-cubic-yards in Phase 2 and 16,000-cubic-yards in Phase 3) of clean fill into 6.52 acres of waters of the United States (4.17 acres of palustrine forested wetlands and 2.35 acres of ditches jurisdictional to the Corps under a Preliminary Jurisdictional Determination). The work consists of completing Phases 2 and 3 of the proposed work, which includes constructing the Jacksonville Fairgrounds property, including parking facilities, internal roadways, attendant structures, infrastructure, and associated stormwater management facility. The applicant states that work in Phase 1 would be developed in uplands. The Corps has not reviewed or verified any wetland delineation within Phase 1 and has not made a jurisdictional determination on Phase 1. No permit has been issued for Phase 1. The current permit application is for Phase 2 and Phase 3 only. The applicant is seeking a 5-year authorization.


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 has identified a need to relocate the existing Jacksonville Fairgrounds from downtown Jacksonville. The new fairground site has been vetted previously and previous permitting efforts led deemed the site suitable through previous USACE alternative sites analysis. A copy of the 2011 public notice is included as an attachment to this application. In general, the site was selected based on its size and current City of Jacksonville ownership, as well as its location in proximity to the Jacksonville Equestrian Center. The currently proposed footprint for the relocated Jacksonville Fairgrounds has further reduced wetland impacts from the previously reviewed site design. Environmental Resource Solutions (the applicant’s consultant) concludes that the project has minimized its impacts to wetlands and waters of the U.S. to the greatest extent practicable.” Additionally, proposed impacts have been reduced to 6.52 acres of fill from the 14.27 acres of fill originally proposed, as publicly noticed by the Corps on December 16, 2011.


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


“As mitigation for the proposed 4.17 acre of impacts to Waters of the United States (palustrine forested wetlands and ditches), the applicant proposes to purchase 2.66 Wetland Rapid Assessment Procedure (WRAP) mitigation bank credits from Loblolly Mitigation Bank. Loblolly Mitigation Bank is a federally approved mitigation bank with a service area encompassing the project site. A WRAP analysis was performed to demonstrate that the purchase of 2.66 credits will offset the proposed impacts. WRAP data sheets are included as an attachment to this application.”




The Corps has evaluated the undertaking for effects to historic properties as required under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act and has followed the guidelines of 33 CFR Part 325, Appendix C. A review of the environmental factors (elevations, LiDAR, ground disturbances, etc.) show extreme alterations of the land which is largely associated intensive ground disturbances related to pine planting and harvesting, interior road constructions, and water control ditching. Therefore, the Corps has determined that the project would have No Potential to Cause Effects to Historic Properties.




The Corps has determined the proposed project may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect the eastern indigo snake (Drymarchon couperi) based on programmatic key. Therefore, no additional consultation with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service is required pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act.


The Corps has determined the proposed project may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect the Wood Stork (Mycteria americana) based on programmatic key. Therefore, no additional consultation with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service is required pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act.


The Corps has determined the proposed project may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect the tricolored bat (Perimyotis subflavus) based on programmatic key. The applicant would complete work prior to any potential listing of the species; or, if the species is listed prior to work completion, the applicant would pursue consultation with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service pursuant to Section 10 of the Endangered Species Act. 


The Corps has determined the proposal would have no effect on the Eastern Black Rail (Laterallus jamaicensis ssp. jamaicensis), the green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas), the hawksbill sea turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata), leatherback sea turtle (Caretta caretta), Red-cockaded Woodpecker (Picoides borealis), or the Whooping Crane (Grus americana), or on any other listed threatened or endangered species or designated critical habitat.


ESSENTIAL FISH HABITAT (EFH):  The project is located within palustrine forested wetlands and ditches that are located well inland of waters considered to be EFH; therefore, the Corps has determined that 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 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 Jacksonville Permits Section, address located at the letterhead above, 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, Terri M. Mashour, in writing at the Jacksonville Permits Section, address located at the letterhead above; by electronic mail at; or, by telephone at (904) 251-9179. 


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 is required from the St. Johns River Water Management District (SJRWMD). The SJRWMD issued an Environmental Resource Permit Project Number 70452-133 on January 30, 2024.


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.