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Under the Corps' Regulatory Program, a public notice is the primary method for advising all interested parties of a proposed activity for which a permit is sought. Soliciting comments and information necessary to evaluate the probable impacts on the public interest. Public notices are also published to inform the public about new or proposed regulations, policies, guidance or permit procedures.

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SPK-1994-00040, Stonegate Subdivision project, as revised, Chico, Butte County, CA

Posted: 9/10/2018

Expiration date: 10/10/2018


Comments Period: September 7, 2018 – September 22, 2018, October 10, 2018

SUBJECT: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Sacramento District, (Corps) is evaluating a permit application to construct the Stonegate Subdivision project, as revised, which would result in the discharge of fill material into approximately 9.13 acres of waters of the United States, including wetlands, in or adjacent to the Butte Creek Diversion Channel. 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 314-acre project site is located on the Butte Creek Diversion Channel, approximately 0.64 miles east of State Route 99 (SR 99). The project site is bordered by the Skyway to the southeast, a vacant parcel to the southwest, residential development to the west, East 20th Street to the north, and a paved bike path to the east. The project site is located on Sections 31 and 32, Township 22 North, Range 2 East, Mount Diablo Base and Meridian, Latitude 39.7184°, Longitude -121.7843°, in Chico, Butte County, California, and can be seen on the Chico USGS Topographic Quadrangle.

PROJECT DESCRIPTION: The proposed project would result in the discharge of fill material and permanent impacts to and the permanent loss of a total of 9.13 acres of waters of the U.S., including 5.92 acres of seasonal wetlands, 2.85 acres of vernal pools, 0.30 acre of ditch/canal, and 0.07 acre of excavated pit for the construction of a mixed use development. The proposed development would include residential and commercial uses, and open space. The overall project as currently proposed would include the creation of a 137-acre open space preserve, with associated trail system along the preserve edge, 423 single family residential lots, 13.4 acres of multi-family residential land use, 36.6 acres of commercial land uses, 5.4 acres of storm water facilities, and 3.5 acres of park. The on-site preserve would preserve a total of 10.65 acres of waters of the U.S. in perpetuity. The preserved waters would include 2.59 acres of seasonal wetlands, 1.24 acres of perennial marsh, 0.84 acre of vernal pools, 0.30 acre of ephemeral drainage, 0.48 acre of intermittent drainage, 5.11 acres of perennial drainage, and 0.09 acre of ditch/canal. The attached drawings provide additional project details.

Based on the available information, the overall project purpose is to construct a medium scale mixed-use development in northwest Butte County, California. The applicant believes there is a need for additional housing and commercial land use in accordance with the City of Chico’s general plan.

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 issued a pre-discharge notice in 1993 for evaluation under a Nationwide Permit and public notices for the various project iterations in 1994, 2000, 2004, and 2017 for evaluation under a Standard Permit. In 2001 the Canyon View High School portion of the project split from the residential and commercial portions and the applicant 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 Chico Unified School District was issued a Department of the Army permit on April 17, 2003, authorizing the discharge of fill material into 1.35 acres of waters of the United States including vernal pools and seasonal wetlands for the proposed construction of Canyon View High School. 

    This public notice is intended to clarify the proposed impacts associated with the Stonegate Subdivision project. The March 2017, public notice stated the proposed project would result in impacts to approximately 7.09 acres of waters of the U.S. Based on an evaluation of the project site, the applicant’s prior aquatic resource delineation was revised to include additional waters of the U.S. on the project site. Based on this information, the project as proposed in the March 2017, public notice would have resulted in impacts to 9.83 acres of waters of the U.S. In addition, the applicant has revised the project to eliminate development to the east of the diversion channel and eliminate the associated utility line crossing of the diversion channel. The applicant’s revisions have reduced the impacts to waters of the U.S. by 0.7 acres and would result in the preservation of an additional 0.29 acre of waters of the U.S. in the expanded on-site preserve. The proposed modification would also result in the preservation of an additional 1.2 acres of Butte county meadowfoam (Limnanthes floccose spp. californica) habitat within the on-site preserve.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

    Environmental Setting. There are approximately 20.19 acres of waters of the U.S., including 4.02 acres of seasonal wetlands, 1.24 acres of perennial marsh, 3.83 acres of vernal pools, 4.74 acres of riverine seasonal wetlands, 0.30 acre of ephemeral drainage, 0.48 acre of intermittent drainage, 5.12 acres of perennial drainage, 0.39 acre of ditch/canal, and 0.07 acre of excavated pit within the project area. 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. An existing levee/berm exists along the western side of the diversional channel on the northern and southern portions of the site. 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.), 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, 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 provided information concerning project alternatives. Additional information concerning project alternatives may be available from the applicant or their agent. The applicant has evaluated six off-site alternatives in the project vicinity and has evaluated five on-site alternatives, including the action as proposed in the March 10, 2017, public notice; the revised proposed action described in this public notice, the no action/no impact alternative, an alternative that would preserve Crouch Ditch in the south of the project area, and an alternative that would preserve Crouch Ditch and eliminate development to the east of the preserve. Other alternatives may develop during the on-going 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. If the applicant is unable to avoid or minimize all impacts, the Corps may require compensatory mitigation. The applicant has proposed to purchase vernal pool establishment credits at the Meridian Ranch Mitigation Bank or another Corps approved mitigation bank.

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 indicated they have applied for certification.

HISTORIC PROPERTIES: The Corps initiated consultation with the State Historic Preservation Officer under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act on January 1, 2018. The SHPO did not object to the Corps determination that the proposed project would have no adverse effect on historic properties on May 9, 2018.

ENDANGERED SPECIES: The proposed activity may affect Federally-listed endangered or threatened species or their critical habitat. The Corps has determined the project may affect and is likely to adversely affect the federally-listed, vernal pool fairy shrimp, vernal pool tadpole shrimp, and Butte county meadowfoam. The Corps initiated formal consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act on July 17, 2018 and consultation is on-going. The Corps will provide additional information regarding the project revisions to continue formal consultation with the USFWS concurrently with this public notice.

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 September 22, 2018, October 10, 2018.

Laura Shively, Senior Project Manager
US Army Corps of Engineers, Sacramento District
1325 J Street, Room 1350
Sacramento, California 95814-2922
Email: Laura.B.Shively@usace.army.mil

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 Laura Shively, (916) 557-5258, Laura.B.Shively@usace.army.mil.

Attachments: August 28, 2018, Figure 2A of 3, Proposed Action, prepared by Foothill & Associates