Comment Period: May 11, 2020 – June 10, 2020
SUBJECT: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Sacramento District, (Corps) is evaluating a permit modification to increase the discharge dredged or fill material into waters of the United States from approximately 9.53 acres to approximately 11.36 acres to construct the Placer Vineyards Property 7 (Formerly Placer Vineyards Specific Plan – 356) project. This notice is to inform interested parties of the proposed activity and to solicit comments on the permit modification.
AUTHORITY: This application is being evaluated under Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 for structures or work in or affecting navigable waters of the United States and/or Section 404 of the Clean Water Act for the discharge of dredged or fill material in waters of the United States.
APPLICANT: BHT II Northern Cal 1, LLC
Attn: Mr. Rick Langdon
31173 Tower Road
Visalia, California 93292
LOCATION: The approximately 290.53-acre project site is located near Curry Creek, southwest of the intersection of Watt Avenue and Baseline Road, Sections 2 and 3, Township 10 North, Range 5 East, Mount Diablo Baseline and Meridian, Latitude 38.7412°, Longitude -121.4244°, southwest of the City of Roseville in Placer County, California, and can be seen on the Rio Linda USGS Topographic Quadrangle.
PROJECT DESCRIPTION: The applicant is proposing to discharge fill material into 11.36 acre of waters of the U.S., consisting of 6.82 acres of seasonal wetland, 2.11 acres of seasonal wetland swale, 1.11 acres of vernal pool, 0.74 acre of intermittent drainage, 0.16 acre of drainage canal, and 0.42 acre of pond. The proposed modification would result in the additional discharge of fill material into 1.83 acres of waters of the U.S. in addition to the previously authorized discharge into 9.53 acres of waters of the U.S. The additional proposed discharge of fill material into waters of the U.S. is the result of the applicant increasing the proposed action by 11.22 acres to accommodate an access road and toe of slope grading as part the overall construction of a mixed use development for the Placer Vineyards Specific Plan (PVSP). The project is comprised of three phases. Phase R1.1 encompasses 162.66 acres of the project area, Phase R1.2 includes 85.61 acres of the project area, and Phase R1.3 includes 42.26 acres of the project area. The 11. 36 acres of impacts to waters of the U.S. would all occur in Phase R1.3. All impacts including the additional 1.83 acres were considered in the EIS for the overall PVSP.
Based on the available information, the overall project purpose, as identified by the Corps in the September 20, 2015, Record of Decision (ROD) for the PVSP (see Project Background) is to construct a large scale, regional mixed-use residential project in Western Placer County. The applicant believes there is a need for additional housing and commercial development to accommodate anticipated population
In May 2006, the Corps received 24 applications for a Department of the Army (DA) permit under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act to fill waters of the United States to develop individual properties within the PVSP, as well as a request for the Corps to establish a general permit to construct the backbone infrastructure consisting of both on- and off-site improvements.
In early 2007, the Corps determined preparation of an EIS was necessary for the Proposed Action due to the potential for significant effects on biological resources, air quality, hydrology and water quality, agricultural resources, traffic, and aesthetics. Scoping for the EIS began on March 16, 2007 with publication of a Notice of Intent to Prepare an EIS in the Federal Register (Federal Register Vol. 72, No. 51, 12599‑12600). Two public scoping meetings were held on March 28, 2007 at Placer County Community Development Resource Center. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) agreed to be a cooperating agency on the preparation of the EIS on January 21, 2010. The EIS was prepared at a program-level of analysis, as project‑level information on on-site alternatives was not available for each project within the PVSP.
On April 26, 2013, a Draft EIS was issued by the Corps for a 45-day review period. A Notice of Availability (NOA) was published in the Federal Register on April 26, 2013 (Federal Register, Vol. 78, No. 81, 24744). A public notice of the Draft EIS, including a draft RGP, was issued on April 26, 2013.
The Corps released the Final EIS on July 25, 2014. A NOA was published in the Federal Register on July 25, 2014 (Federal Register, Vol. 79, No. 143, 43465). A public notice announcing the Final EIS was issued on July 25, 2014. A Record of Decision (ROD) for the overall PVSP was issued on September 20, 2015. The Regional General Permit 14, Placer Vineyards Specific Plan Infrastructure, Placer County, California was issued on January 12, 2017. Pursuant to the ROD, the Corps is contemplating the issuance of an individual permit for development of Property 7 (Formerly Placer Vineyards Specific Plan - 356). The EIS and ROD can be viewed at the Corps website at http://www.spk.usace.army.mil/Missions/Regulatory/Permitting/Environmental-Impact-Statements/.
A complete application for a Department of the Army permit under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act for the proposed Placer Vineyards Property 7 was received on June 1, 2018 for the discharge of fill material into 9.53 acres of waters of the U.S. An initial public notice describing the project was issued on June 7, 2018. Four comments were received and addressed by the Corps. In September 2019, the Corps issued a signed Individual Permit for the PV Property 7 Development Project. No work has been completed to date.
On December 3, 2019, the applicant submitted a request for a modification to the proposed action which would result in an increase of fill material into 1.83 acres of waters of the U.S., to include additional infrastructure not included in the September 2019, Corps’ permit authorization. Additional work includes an additional access road and toe of slope grading not included in the previous permit. These activities have increased the project area by 11.22 acres.
Environmental Setting. There are approximately 25.85 acres of waters of the U.S., including 1.11 acres of vernal pools, 2.16 acres of seasonal wetland swales, 9.24 acres of seasonal wetlands, 0.42 acre of pond, 12.77 acres of intermittent drainages, and 0.16 acre of drainage canal within the project area. The site is characterized by annual grasslands, including vernal pool complexes. Seasonal wetlands, including vernal pools, are scattered throughout the project site, and an intermittent drainage flows through the center of the project area.
Alternatives. The applicant has provided information to verify that the proposed project is in compliance with the environmentally preferred alternative, (Combined Alternatives 1 through 5) for the PVSP as discussed in the September 30, 2015, ROD. Additional information concerning project alternatives is included in the PVSP ROD and/or may be available from the applicant or their agent. The applicant has also provided additional information regarding on-site avoidance and minimization of impacts to waters of the U.S. through implementation of best management practices. 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. If the applicant is unable to avoid or minimize all impacts, the Corps may require compensatory mitigation. The applicant has proposed to compensate for impacts to waters of the U.S. through the purchase of credits from the Western Placer County In-Lieu Fee Program.
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.
HISTORIC PROPERTIES: The proposed project would comply with the Programmatic Agreement between the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the California State Historic Preservation Officer regarding the Placer Vineyards Specific Plan Project, Placer County, California executed on September 16, 2014. The Corps will continue consultation with the State Historic Preservation Officer under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act, as appropriate.
ENDANGERED SPECIES: The proposed activity may affect Federally-listed endangered or threatened species or their critical habitat. The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) issued a concurrence letter for the PVSP (NMFS No: WCR‑2016-4669) dated May 31, 2016. The proposed project would be appended to the October 17, 2017, amended Programmatic Biological Opinion for the Placer Vineyards Specific Plan Project, Placer County, California (Number 81420‑2008‑F‑0983-4). The Corps will initiate consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act, as appropriate.
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‑2005‑00088 must be submitted to the office listed below on or before June 10, 2020.
Leah Fisher, Senior Project Manager
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 Leah Fisher, (916) 557-6639, Leah.M.Fisher@usace.army.mil.
Attachments: 3 drawings
Attachment 1: Figure 1. Project Vicinity and Context
Attachment 2: Figure 2. Project Area and Phasing
Attachment 3: Figure 6. Waters of the U.S., Proposed Impacts and Avoidance