Cypress Run Permit Veto Letter

                                                                        

 

Mr. James Palmer

Regional Administrator

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Sam Nunn Atlanta Federal Center

61 Forsyth St., SW

Atlanta GA  30303-3104

 

                                                                                                            Date__, 2003

 

RE: Cypress Run Permit Veto

 

Dear Mr. Palmer:

 

We are writing to urge you to veto Permit Application Number 200105926 (HD Development, LLC: Cypress Run) because of the substantial and unacceptable adverse impacts that this project would have on the Cocohatchee River Watershed.  We object to the proposed project for the following reasons:

 

1) The applicant proposes to directly impact more than 26 acres of wetlands through excavation and discharge of fill.   The acres that will be impacted provide biological and hydrological functions within the Cocohatchee River Watershed.  As you know, the Cocohatchee River is a 303(d) listed, impaired water body.  The acres to be impacted provide filtering and cleaning of surface water runoff, storage of floodwaters during the rainy season, and refuges for wildlife, fish and macro-invertebrate populations.  The wetland acreage that the applicant proposes to impact provide suitable habitat for threatened and endangered species including the eastern indigo snake, red cockaded woodpecker, Florida panther, and wood stork. 

 

2) Additionally, we believe that the proposed project does not comply with Section 404(b)(1) Guidelines, which require applicants to follow a sequence of avoidance, minimization and compensation in planning for development of wetland sites and to ensure that proposed projects do not cause or contribute to the significant degradation of waters of the U.S.   Section 230.10(a) of the Guidelines prohibits issuance of a permit to fill wetlands if there is a practicable alternative that would have less adverse impact on aquatic ecosystems.  In order to comply with these requirements, the applicant must consider practicable alternatives to combining residential and commercial development on the same site. 

 

3) Furthermore, more than 4 acres designated as uplands on the public notice for this project contain the same soil type, hydrology and plant species as the areas designated as wetlands.  We believe that the EPA should reconsider the Corpsí wetland delineation for this site. 

 

4) Development of these important wetlands will permanently restrict the traditional southerly sheet flow from the Corkscrew Regional Ecosystem Watershed lands to the north.  This constriction of the southward sheet flow could add to flooding problems as flows at this location sometimes exceed 500 cubic feet per second.    Additionally, the cumulative effect of this project and two proposed developments upstream (Mirasol and Terafina) would further increase flow volume and pollutant loads into the already impaired Cocohatchee River. 

 

The size and type of land use conversions proposed for this site render the proposed compensatory mitigation inadequate.   We urge the EPA to veto this permit because of the substantial and unacceptable adverse impacts the project would have on aquatic resources of national importance. 

 

Sincerely,

 

 

Jeff Ruch

Executive Director

Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER)

 

 

Cc. Col. Robert Carpenter, Jacksonville District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

John Meagher, Wetlands Division Director, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

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