Comments Period: March 10, 2017 – April 10, 2017
SUBJECT: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Sacramento District, (Corps) is evaluating a permit application to construct the Stonegate Subdivision project, which would result in impacts to approximately 7.09 acres of waters of the United States, including wetlands, in or adjacent to Little Chico Creek Diversion. This notice is to inform interested parties of the proposed activity and to solicit comments.
AUTHORITY: This application is being evaluated under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act for the discharge of dredged or fill material in waters of the United States.
APPLICANT: Bruce Road Associates, LP, Attn: Mr. George Schmidbauer, 901 Bruce Road, Suite 100, Chico, California 95928
LOCATION: The approximately 319-acre project site is located approximately 0.64 miles east of State Route 99 (SR 99). The project site is bordered by Skyway Avenue to the southeast, a vacant parcel to the southwest, residential development to the west, East 20th Street to the northwest, Doe Mill Road to the northeast, and a paved bike path to the east. The project is at Latitude 39.718372°, Longitude -121.784312°, Chico, Butte County, California, and can be seen on the CA-CHICO USGS Topographic Quadrangle. (Exhibit 1)
PROJECT DESCRIPTION: The applicant is proposing to construct a subdivision. Based on the available information, the overall project purpose is to a construct a mixed use, mixed density, development to include residential, commercial, a high school and supporting infrastructure in the City of Chico, California. The applicant states the 319-acre project site would include 469 single-family residential lots, 13.4 acres of multi-family residential development, 36.6 acres of commercial land uses, 3.3 acres of park, a 5-acre storm water facility and a 108-acre preserve. Rights-of-way along Bruce Road and north of Skyway Road are included. The attached drawings provide additional project details. (Exhibit 2)
A total of 17.29 acres of waters of the United States have been identified on the project site, including; 3.73 acres of seasonal wetlands, 1.24 acres of perennial marsh, 3.68 acres of vernal pool, 2.43 acres of riverine seasonal wetlands, 0.30 acre of ephemeral drainage, 0.48 acre of intermittent drainage, 5.12 acres of perennial drainage, 0.25 acre of ditch/canal and a 0.07 acre excavated pit. (Exhibit 3). The applicant has applied to fill approximately 7.09 acres of these waters to construct the proposed project. Approximately 10.20 acres of open space will be included in the proposed project, located on the eastern portion of the project site. This area includes Little Chico Creek Diversion (5.121 acres), 0.92 acre of seasonal wetland, 1.24 acres of perennial marsh, 0.69 acre of vernal pool, 1.38 acres of riverine seasonal wetland, 0.30 acre of ephemeral drainage, 0.46 acre of intermittent drainage, and 0.09 acre of ditch/canal. The proposed open space is directly south of, and contiguous with, the 14.76 acres Doe Mill Preserve, just south of E. 20th Street.
PROJECT HISTORY: The project is associated with Section 404 permit evaluations in the past under the names Stonegate Subdivision, Canyon High School/Bruce Road South, and Cambridge Estates and Stonegate. The Corps has issued a pre-discharge notice in 1993 and public notices for the various project iterations in 1994, 2000, and 2004. In 2001 the Canyon View High School portion of the project split from the residential and commercial portions and sought a permit to construct the school in the 51-acre southwest portion of the earlier project sites. This site is located in the northwest corner of Raley Boulevard and Bruce Road. A public notice for the school was issued on August 21, 2002. The Canyon View High School was issued a Department of the Army permit on April 17, 2003, authorizing 1.35 acres of impacts to waters of the United States including vernal pools and seasonal wetlands.
Environmental Setting. The site is characterized by gently rolling hills, flat areas, slopes incised by shallow drainage ways and depressions. Slopes range from approximately less than one percent to six percent. The applicant states the site does not appear to have been grazed in over ten years. Elevation within the project site ranges from 225 feet (69 meters) above mean sea level (MSL) in the south to approximately 280 feet (85 meters) above MSL in the north. The project site occurs within the lower Butte watershed within Hydrologic Unit Code (HUC): 18020105.
Biological communities are dominated by California annual grassland, common to elevations to approximately 4000 feet above MSL. Dominant vegetation includes soft brome (Bromus hordeaceus), oat (Avena sp.), mousse-tail grass (Vulpia myuros), medusahead (Elymus caput-medusae), long-beaked filaree (Erodium botrys), barley (Hordeum murinum), and royal larkspur (Delphinium variegatum ssp. variegatum). A row of valley oak (Quercus lobata) occurs along a drainage on the eastern portion of the project site. The annual grassland landscape is interspersed with vernal pool/vernal swale complexes that are known to support the federally-listed endangered Butte County meadowfoam (Limnanthes floccose spp. californica), federally threatened vernal pool fairy shrimp (Branchinecta lynchi) and the federally endangered vernal pool tadpole shrimp (Lepidurus packardi).
Some disturbed/developed areas occur within the project site, including graded fire breaks and levee roads. Minimal vegetation occurs within the disturbed/developed areas and include: medusahead, barley, and soft brome. Land uses surrounding the project site include commercial development to the south, residential development to the north and west, and non native annual grassland to the east. In addition to the existing commercial development to the southwest there will also be the currently authorized but as of yet unbuilt Canyon View High School.
Alternatives. The applicant has not provided information concerning project alternatives. Additional information concerning project alternatives may be available from the applicant or their agent. Other alternatives may develop during the review process for this permit application. All reasonable project alternatives, in particular those which may be less damaging to the aquatic environment, will be considered.
Mitigation. The Corps requires that applicants consider and use all reasonable and practical measures to avoid and minimize impacts to aquatic resources. The applicant proposes to avoid approximately 10.20 acres of waters of the United Stated, including 5.12 acres of a perennial creek, 0.92 acre of seasonal wetland, 1.24 acres of perennial marsh, 0.69 acre of vernal pool, 1.38 acres of riverine seasonal wetland, 0.30 acre of ephemeral drainage, 0.46 acre of intermittent drainage, and 0.09 acre of ditch/canal, within an approximately 108 acre preserve. The proposed preserve is contiguous with the existing 14-acre Doe Mill Preserve. The applicant has not yet provided a detailed mitigation plan to avoid or minimize impacts to waters of the U.S., nor have they provided a mitigation plan to compensate for unavoidable losses of waters other than to propose mitigation credits at a mitigation bank or in lieu fee account. Currently, the only Corps approved mitigation bank that includes this site within its service area and has appropriate mitigation credits is the Meridian Ranch Mitigation Bank. The Sacramento District’s in-lieu fee account with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation is the only Corps approved in-lieu fee program that covers this project site and it also could potentially provide appropriate mitigation for project impacts.
OTHER GOVERNMENTAL AUTHORIZATIONS: Water quality certification or a waiver, as required under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act from the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board is required for this project. The applicant has not indicated they have applied for certification.
HISTORIC PROPERTIES: A Cultural Resources Assessment has not been completed for this project. As soon as the assessment is completed the Corps will initiate consultation with the State Historic Preservation Officer under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act, as appropriate.
ENDANGERED SPECIES: The annual grassland landscape is interspersed with vernal pool/vernal swale complexes that are known to support the federally-listed endangered Butte County meadowfoam (Limnanthes floccose spp. californica), federally threatened vernal pool fairy shrimp (Branchinecta lynchi) and the federally endangered vernal pool tadpole shrimp (Lepidurus packardi). The proposed activity may affect and is likely to adversely affect these listed species. Biological Opinion (1-1-97-F-105) was issued on August 31, 1995, for the 165 acres Stonegate Residential Project site and impacting 4.64 acres of aquatic resources. Due to the information in the Biological Opinion being more than 20 years old and new occurrences of the listed species being identified on the project site in the intervening years, this biological opinion is considered no longer valid. Once the applicant provides the necessary information, the Corps will re initiate consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act, in accordance with 50 CFR 402.16.
ESSENTIAL FISH HABITAT: The proposed project would not adversely affect Essential Fish Habitat (EFH) as defined in the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. The above determinations are based on information provided by the applicant and our preliminary review.
EVALUATION FACTORS: The decision whether to issue a permit will be based on an evaluation of the probable impacts, including cumulative impacts, of the described activity on the public interest. That decision will reflect the national concern for both protection and utilization of important resources. The benefit, which reasonably may be expected to accrue from the described activity, must be balanced against its reasonably foreseeable detriments. All factors which may be relevant to the described activity will be considered, including the cumulative effects thereof; among those 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, consideration of property ownership and, in general, the needs and welfare of the people. The activity's impact on the public interest will include application of the Section 404(b)(1) guidelines promulgated by the Administrator, Environmental Protection Agency (40 CFR Part 230).
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. 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 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.
SUBMITTING COMMENTS: Written comments, referencing Public Notice SPK-1994-00040 must be submitted to the office listed below on or before April 10, 2017.
Matthew Kelley, Project Manager
US Army Corps of Engineers, Sacramento District
310 Hemsted Drive, Suite 310
Redding, California 96002
The Corps is particularly interested in receiving comments related to the proposal's probable impacts on the affected aquatic environment and the secondary and cumulative effects. Anyone may request, in writing, that a public hearing be held to consider this application. Requests shall specifically state, with particularity, the reason(s) for holding a public hearing. If the Corps determines that the information received in response to this notice is inadequate for thorough evaluation, a public hearing may be warranted. If a public hearing is warranted, interested parties will be notified of the time, date, and location. Please note that all comment letters received are subject to release to the public through the Freedom of Information Act. If you have questions or need additional information please contact the applicant or the Corps' project manager Matthew Kelley, (530) 223-9534, Matthew.P.Kelley@usace.army.mil.
Attachments: 3 drawings