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2015-436-OHR

Published May 29, 2015
Expiration date: 6/29/2015

TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN: The following application has been submitted for a Department of the Army (DA) 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 (OEPA) to act on the Section 401 Water Quality Certification for the following application.

 

APPLICANT:            Mr. Ken Schuermann

                                    Schuermann Properties, LLC

                                    Post Office Box 8446

                                    Cincinnati, Ohio 45208

 

LOCATION:  As depicted on the attached Sheet 1 of 3, the proposed project would be located within the watershed of Mill Creek (Latitude39.2624N, Longitude 84.3720N), in the City of Blue Ash, Hamilton County, Ohio.  The on-site streams flow into Sharon Creek, which is a tributary of Mill Creek, a traditional navigable water of the United States.     

DESCRIPTION OF PROPOSED WORK:  The applicant has requested a DA authorization to discharge 1,944 cubic yards of dredged and/or fill material into approximately 0.66 acre of six wetlands, 340 linear feet of intermittent stream and 0.45 acre of pond in association with the construction of the Blue Ash Development Project (see attached Table 1 and Sheet 2 of 3).  The proposed development would consist of a 500,000 square foot industrial building with associated parking and storage areas, and a stormwater management system, including a detention area.  Plans for the proposed project are attached to this notice.

 

ALTERNATIVES ANALYSIS:  A total of approximately 0.66 acre of six wetlands (Wetlands 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6), 340 linear feet of intermittent stream (Stream C) and 0.45 acre of pond (Pond 1) 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 for non-water dependent activities, 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 dredge and/or fill material.  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 office determines practicable upland alternatives are not available to achieve the overall project purpose based upon the applicant’s alternative analysis.

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, then the impacts must be minimized.  Approximately 2,400 linear feet of perennial stream (Stream A), 695 linear feet of intermittent streams (Streams B and C), 750 linear feet of ephemeral streams (Streams D, E and F), 0.68 acre of six wetlands (Wetlands 1-7) and 0.45 acre of pond (Pond 1) are located within the proposed project area (See Sheet 3 of 3).  Avoidance and minimization efforts were incorporated into the proposal to reduce the footprint of the proposed project.  The applicant’s project would avoid 100% of perennial stream, 100% of the on-site ephemeral streams, 51.1% of the on-site intermittent streams, and 3% of the on-site wetlands.  Stormwater management planning would incorporate best management practices and water pollution controls necessary to maintain compliance with the Federal Water Pollution Control Act and Ohio Water Pollution Control Act.  Construction activities would be performed during low flow stream conditions.  Stormwater management and erosion control systems would be implemented during construction, including silt fences, mulch and/or earthen berms, temporary seeding, hay bales, inlet protection, temporary collection basins, diversion ditches, and construction entrances.  Stormwater generated during the construction phases of the proposed project would be directed to a series of temporary on-site sedimentation basins.  The previously constructed stormwater detention basin on the adjacent site would be used to manage stormwater for the proposed development.  All disturbed areas would be seeded and/or revegetated with native plant species and native seed mixes after completion of construction activities. 

 

COMPENSATORY MITIGATION PLAN:  To compensate for the loss of waters of the United States associated with the proposed project, the applicant proposes to preserve 2,400 linear feet of perennial Stream A with an average 100 foot wide buffer zone (5.5 acres). 

WATER QUALITY CERTIFICATION: A Section 401 Water Quality Certification may be required for this project.  It is the applicant’s responsibility to obtain certification from the OEPA. 

HISTORIC AND CULTURAL RESOURCES: The National Register of Historic Places

(NRHP) has been consulted and it has been determined there are no properties currently listed on the NRHP that would be indirectly or directly affected by the proposed work.  The project site is surrounded by a mix of dense industrial, commercial, and residential properties.  An active rail line and industrial properties are to the east.  Kenwood Road and industrial properties are to the west.  Residential properties along Cook Avenue and Matthew 25 Ministries along Kenwood Road are to the north.  Industrial properties along Kenwood Road are to the south. 

The majority of the project area has been used as agricultural land.  The southern half of the project site consists of baseball and soccer fields, a manufacturing operation, and a previously disturbed area, which contains a borrow pit and Wetland Areas 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5.  This southern half of project site is relatively flat.  The northern half of the project site consists of a valley containing perennial Stream A.  This portion of the project site is primarily wooded and would be avoided and preserved as part of the applicant’s development plan.  The rail line to the east of the property was present in the 1930’s as well as residential properties to the north.  The manufacturing operation that occupies the southern portion of the project site as well as the old rail spur that runs east to west through the property, have been present since the late 1950’s or early 1960’s.  The extant buildings on the property include a large metal framed manufacturing facility and other similar structures that are not considered to be historically significant.  Between the 1960’s to 1980’s, the borrow pit that contains Pond 1 and a portion of Wetland Area 1 was excavated, and the baseball and soccer fields in the southwest corner of property and the manufacturing operations were constructed. 

A review of the Ohio Historic Preservation Office files indicates no arcaheological sites are documented within one mile of the project area.  No Ohio Historic Inventory properties are located within or adjacent or within the viewshed of the project area.  The Corps has determined the proposed project would have no effect on historic properties eligible or potentially eligible for inclusion on the NRHP.  A copy of this public notice will be furnished to Ohio State Historic Preservation Office for their review.  Comments concerning archaeological sensitivity of the project area should be based on collected data.

THREATENED AND ENDANGERED SPECIES: The proposed project is located within the known or historic range of the endangered Indiana bat (Myotis sodalis), threatened northern long-eared bat (Myotis septentrionalis), endangered running buffalo clover (Trifolium stoloniferum), endangered fanshell mussel (Cyprogenia stegaria), endangered pink mucket pearly mussel (Lampsilis abrupta), endangered rayed bean mussel (Villosa fabalis), endangered sheepnose mussel (Plethobasus cpyhyus), and endangered snuffbox mussel (Epioblasma triquetra).

The proposed project would not directly impact any of the habitat types for the aforementioned mussels.  As indicated above, the applicant would use best management practices and implement a storm water pollution prevention plan for the site.  We have determined the proposed project would have no effect on the aforementioned mussels. 

The northern half of the project site (~27 acres) consists of the wooded hillsides leading down to perennial Stream A.  These wooded areas contain Wetland Areas 6 and 7 and most of the streams on the property.  Until the 1950’s, the upper slopes in these areas were used for agricultural purposes, while the lower slopes along Stream A remained sparsely wooded.  The majority of these 27 acres has been wooded (in various stages of succession) since the 1970’s.  The youngest trees are located along the southern portion of this area.  Species in this wooded area include red sassafrass (Sassafrass albidum), red maple (Acer rubrum), sugar maple (Acer saccharum), red oak (Quercus rubra), chinkapin oak (Quercus muehlenbergii), white ash (Fraxinus americana), and common hackberry (Celtis occidentalis).  Black cherry (Prunus serotina) are located on the younger, upper slopes, while American sycamore (Platanus occidentalis), shagbark hickory (Carya ovate), black tupelo (Nyssa sylvantica), and Quercus spp. are located on the lower slopes along Stream A.  Most of this area has a dense undergrowth of bush honeysuckle (Lonicera spp.).   

The south central portion of the project area contains a manufacturing operation and its associated buildings and paved parking areas.  This developed portion of the project site comprises 4.5 acres.  The southwest corner of the project site consists of approximately 5.5 acres of baseball and soccer fields. 

The southeast corner of the project site consists of approximately 6.5 acres of previously disturbed/graded/cleared land associated with manufacturing operation and/or the old rail line on the property.  This area contains Pond 1 and Wetland Areas 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5.   These wetlands consist mostly of a mixture of forested and herbaceous emergent vegetation.  The area immediately east and north of the buildings and parking areas associated with the manufacturing operation includes small trees and shrubs, including bush honeysuckle (Lonicera maackii), callery pear (Pyrus calleryana), wild teasel (Dipsacus fullonum), Rubus spp., multiflora rose (Rosa mutliflora), and black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia). 

Approximately 30 acres of the project site are wooded.  These areas contain larger dead or dying tress with broken branches and peeling bark, and some amount of shagbark hickories and white oaks. These 30 acres are considered potential habitat for the Indiana bat and the northern long-eared bat.  Approximately 15.5 acres of the wooded area would be cleared by the applicant to facilitate the construction of the proposed project.  The applicant has agreed to conduct tree clearing operations prior to April 1 and after September 1, as recommended by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), to minimize effects on the Indiana bat and the northern long-eared bat.  We have determined the proposed project may affect, but it would not likely adversely affect either the Indiana bat or the northern long-eared bat. 

The lower slopes in the wooded, northern half of the project site contain potential running buffalo clover habitat.  These areas, with the exception of Wetland Area 3, contain relatively less bush honeysuckle cover than the upper slopes, and have regularly disturbed stream channels and deer trails.  The remaining undeveloped areas of the project site are either too wet, or have a dense cover of either bush honeysuckle or other aggressive weedy vegetation.  No running buffalo clover has been observed on the project site by the applicant’s agent during multiple visits.  Therefore, we have determined the proposed project may affect, but it would not likely adversely affect the running buffalo clover.

This Public Notice serves as a request for concurrence from the USFWS with the aforementioned effect determinations and 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 the protection and the 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. 

SOLICITATION OF COMMENTS:  The Corps is soliciting comments from the public, the Federal, state, and local agencies and officials, the 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-2015-436-OHR

                                                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 Teresa Spagna of the North Branch at (304) 399-5210, by mail at the above address, or by email at: teresa.d.spagna@usace.army.mil.    

                                                                                             

                                   

Table 1.  Proposed Discharges of Dredged and/or Fill Material into Waters of the United States Associated with the Construction of the Blue Ash Development Project

Aquatic Resource ID

Aquatic Resource Type

Linear Feet of Impact

Acres of Impact

Volume of Fill (cubic yards) within Corps jurisdiction

Wetland 1

Forested and emergent

 

0.126

204

Wetland 2

Forested and emergent

 

0.27

436

Wetland 3

Emergent

 

0.047

75

Wetland 4

Forested and emergent

 

0.115

186

Wetland 5

Emergent

 

0.082

132

Wetland 6

Shrub-scrub and emergent

 

0.018

29

Pond 1

Pond

 

0.45

873

Stream C

Intermittent Stream

340

0.01

9

Total

 

340

1.12

1,944