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LRH-2011-228-TUS

Published March 12, 2013
Expiration date: 4/10/2013

TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN: The following application has been submitted for a Department of the Army Permit under the provisions of Section 404 of the Clean Water Act.   This notice serves as the United States Army Corps of Engineers’ (Corps) request to the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency to act on Section 401 Water Quality Certification for the following application.

 

APPLICANT:                Mr. Steve Spradling

                                    Stark State College    

                                    6200 Frank Avenue NW

                                    North Canton, Ohio 44720    

 

LOCATION: The proposed project would be located in an unnamed tributary to the West Branch of Nimishillen Creek and adjacent wetlands thereof on a 39.6 acre parcel of land on the northeast corner of Frank Avenue Northwest and Mega Street, in Jackson Township, Stark County, Ohio (See attached Sheet 1 of 11).  Nimishillen Creek is a direct tributary to the Tuscarawas River, a traditionally navigable water of the United States.  The project site is located at latitude 40.87703˚N and longitude -81.43912˚W.

 

DESCRIPTION OF PROPOSED WORK: The applicant proposes to discharge 72,487 cubic yards of fill material into 8.75 acres of wetlands in association with a 400,000 square foot expansion of the Stark State College main campus as detailed in the Table 1 below (See attached Sheets 3, 4 and 5 of 11).  The proposed expansion area would include eight academic buildings, three corporate partnership training facilities, one support services building, four parking lots providing 1,290 parking spaces, and an access road.  In addition, the applicant proposes to construct a pond, encompassing approximately 0.79 acre, within Wetland A using a dragline crane excavator that would be operated from the adjacent upland area.  The purpose of the proposed pond is to provide more diverse water resources for educational and aesthetic purposes.  A wetland shelf would be constructed around the circumference of the pond and would be planted with wetland vegetation (See attached Sheet 7 of 11).  The construction of the pond would result in a discharge of dredged or fill material into approximately 0.59 acres of Wetland A.

 

Table 1. Proposed Discharges of Dredged or Fill Material into Waters of the United States

Wetland

Total Size (acres)

Proposed Impacts (acres)

yds3

Wetland A

11.611

7.418

64,000

Wetland B

0.045

0.045

24

Wetland C

1.249

1.249

8,400

Wetland D

0.033

0.033

58

Wetland E

0.001

0.001

5

TOTAL

12.939

8.746

72,487

 

Additionally, the applicant proposes to install three-sided box culverts over two streams (Streams 1 and 2) (See attached Sheet 6 of 11).  Lastly, the applicant proposes to incorporate a hike and bike trail as part of the Stark Parks Hike and Bike Trail system.  This proposed trail would include the construction of an eight-foot wide boardwalk through Wetland A.  The installation of three-sided culverts and trail boardwalk would not involve a discharge of dredged or fill material into waters of the United States and would not be subject to Section 404 of the Clean Water Act. 

ALTERNATIVES ANALYSIS: A total of 8.746 acres of wetlands would be filled as a result of the proposal.  The project does not require access or proximity to, or siting within, the wetlands to fulfill its basic purpose and is considered a non-water dependent activity.  The Section 404(b)(1) Guidelines state that for non-water dependent activities in special aquatic sites, practicable alternatives that do not involve wetlands are presumed to be available, unless clearly demonstrated otherwise.  The applicant is required to provide an alternatives analysis that must overcome this presumption prior to receiving authorization for the discharge of fill material into wetlands.  The applicant has submitted an alternatives analysis and it is currently under review.  A complete copy of the applicant’s alternatives analysis can be reviewed, by appointment, at the above address.  No permit will be issued until our review of the alternatives analysis clearly demonstrates that practicable upland alternatives are not available to achieve the overall project purpose.

AVOIDANCE AND MINIMIZATION: In evaluating a project area containing waters of the United States, consideration must be given to avoiding impacts on these sites.  If waters of the United States cannot be avoided, impacts must be minimized.  A total of 12.939 acres of wetland and 1,284 linear feet of two intermittent stream channels, subject to Section 404 Clean Water Act regulation, exists on the project site (See attached Sheet 2 of 11).  Avoidance and minimization efforts were incorporated into the proposal.  Under the applicant’s preferred alternative, approximately 11.432 acres of wetland and 238 linear feet of intermittent stream channel would be permanently affected by the discharge of fill material.  Through on-site avoidance and minimization efforts, the applicant’s minimal degradation alternative would avoid discharging dredged or fill material into 4.193 acres of wetlands and 1,284 linear feet of streams. The applicant incorporated three-sided culverts into the overall plan to minimize discharges of fill material into the on-site streams.  In addition, the applicant has designed the proposed trail boardwalk to not involve the discharge of fill material into on-site Wetland A.  

 

COMPENSATORY MITIGATION PLAN: The applicant has submitted a conceptual mitigation plan to compensate for the discharge of fill material into 8.746 acres of wetland.  The applicant proposes to complete wetland restoration and enhancement at the Little Stillwater Wetland Mitigation Site, located south of U.S. Route 250, in Franklin Township, Harrison County, Ohio (See attached Sheet 8 of 11).  This proposed off-site mitigation would involve the restoration of a minimum of 10.8 acres of wetlands.  To ensure this minimum acreage is achieved, approximately 0.6 acre of emergent marsh, 1.4 acres of scrub-shrub, and 12.0 acres of forested wetland are proposed to be re-established within the mitigation site (See attached Sheet 9 of 11).  Additionally, 1.4 acres of existing wetland would be enhanced through planting and increased hydrology.  Detailed compensatory mitigation plans are not available at this time.

 

The applicant also proposes to purchase a 31.6-acre property for preservation of aquatic resources and associated upland buffers (See attached Sheet 11 of 11).  The property is located west of U.S. Route 77, north of Pleasant Valley Drive, and east of Warner Road, in Coventry Township, Summit County, Ohio (See attached Sheet 10 of 11).  The proposed long-term owner of the preservation site is identified as the Ohio Valley Conservation Coalition.  A preliminary wetlands investigation completed on the site identified 14.6 acres of category 3 wetlands, 5.4 acres of open water, and 2,815 linear feet of perennial stream.  Neither the wetland delineation nor the wetland classification has been verified by the Corps.  The applicant has stated their view that the Coventry property to be suitable for preservation due to the threat of destruction or adverse modification as a result of oil and gas exploration. 

 

WATER QUALITY CERTIFICATION:  A Section 401 Water Quality Certification is required for this project.  It is the applicant’s responsibility to obtain certification from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency. 

HISTORIC AND CULTURAL RESOURCES:  The National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) has been consulted and it has been determined that there are no properties currently listed on the NRHP which would be indirectly or directly affected by the proposed work.  A cultural resource literature review (Report) was performed for the 39.6-acre proposed project area.  Based upon a review of the Report, the Corps determined the proposed project would have no effect on historic properties listed or eligible or potentially eligible for inclusion on the NRHP.  Via a letter dated September 10, 2012 the Corps requested concurrence from the Ohio Historic Preservation Office (OHPO) concerning the Corps’ aforementioned effect determination.  In a letter dated October 25, 2012, the OHPO provided concurrence.  A copy of this Public Notice will be sent to the OHPO for their review.  Comments concerning archeological sensitivity of a project area should be based upon collected data.

THREATENED AND ENDANGERED SPECIES:  The proposed project is located within the known or historic range of the following endangered species:  Indiana bat, Myotis sodalis.  The Corps has consulted the most recently available information and information provided by the applicant to make an effect determination.  The project site contains a mixture of young- to mid-successional woods with open to dense understory.  Portions of Wetland A provide potential foraging areas for the Indiana bat, and suitable roost trees are present on-site.  However, the site

 

is located in close proximity to a highly developed, commercial area.  The applicant has agreed to conduct tree cutting operations during the Indiana bat’s hibernation period (prior to April 1 and after September 30).  Therefore, the Corps has determined the proposed project may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect the Indiana bat.  Based on this information, the proposed project is not likely to adversely affect the continued existence of any endangered species or threatened species, or result in the destruction or adverse modification of habitat of such species which has been determined to be critical.  This Public Notice serves as a request to the United States Fish and Wildlife Service for any additional information they may have on whether any listed or proposed to be listed endangered or threatened species may be present in the area which would be affected by the activity, pursuant to Section 7(c) of the Endangered Species Act of 1972 (as amended). 

PUBLIC INTEREST REVIEW AND CUMULATIVE EFFECTS:  This application will be reviewed in accordance with 33 CFR 320‑332, the Regulatory Program of the Corps, and other pertinent laws, regulations, and executive orders.  Our evaluation will also follow the guidelines published by the United States Environmental Protection Agency pursuant to Section 404(b) (1) of the Clean Water Act (40 CFR part 230).  The decision whether to issue a permit will be based on an evaluation of the probable impacts, 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 benefit that reasonably may be expected to accrue from the proposal must be balanced against its reasonably foreseeable detriments.  All factors that may be relevant to the proposal will be considered, including the cumulative effects thereof; among those factors are conservation, economics, aesthetics, general environmental concerns, wetlands, historic 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.  Written statements on these factors received in this office on or before the expiration date of this public notice will become a part of the record and will be considered in the final determination.  A permit will be granted unless its issuance is found to be contrary to the public interest.

SOLICITATION OF COMMENTS:  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.  For accuracy and completeness of the administrative record, all data in support of or in opposition to the proposed work should be submitted in writing setting forth sufficient detail to furnish a clear understanding of the reasons for support or opposition.  Any person may request, in writing, within the comment period specified in the notice, that a public hearing be held to consider the application.  Requests for public hearings shall state, with particularity, the reasons for holding a public hearing.  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.  Written statements received in this office on or before the expiration date of this Public Notice will become a part of the record and will be considered in the final determination.  A permit will be granted unless its issuance is found to be contrary to the public interest.

CLOSE OF COMMENT PERIOD:   All comments pertaining to this Public Notice must reach this office on or before the close of the comment period listed on page one of this Public Notice.  If no comments are received by that date, it will be considered that there are no objections. Comments and requests for additional information should be submitted to:

 

United States Army Corps of Engineers

ATTN: CELRH-RD-N

Public Notice No. LRH-2011-00228-TUS

502 Eighth Street

Huntington, West Virginia 25701-2070.

 

Please note names and addresses of those who submit comments in response to this Public Notice become part of our administrative record and, as such, are available to the public under provisions of the Freedom of Information Act.  Thank you for your interest in our nation’s water resources.  If you have any questions concerning this Public Notice, please contact Megan Oberst of the Dover Regulatory Field Office at (330) 364-6177, by mail at the above address, or by email at megan.c.oberst@usace.army.mil.