Comment Period: September 3 – October 3, 2020
SUBJECT: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Sacramento District, (Corps) is evaluating a permit application for the discharge fill material in approximately 6.26 acres of waters of the United States to construct the 979-acre Daybreak mixed-use residential housing and commercial Planned Unit Development project. 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: Newport Pacific Land Co., LLC, 100 Bayview Circle, Suite 2200, Newport Beach, CA, 92660
LOCATION: The approximately 6.26-acres of impacts are located on tributaries to Thomas Creek and Steamboat Creek, near center coordinates of Latitude 39.4639°, Longitude ‑119.7356°, Reno, Washoe County, Nevada (Figure 1), and can be seen on the Steamboat USGS Topographic Quadrangle.
PROJECT DESCRIPTION: The applicant is proposing to discharge fill material into 10,516 linear feet/3.70 acres of intermittent and perennial streams and 2.56 acres of wetlands for the construction of a 979 acre mixed-use residential development (Table 1 and Figures 2a and 2b). Based on the available information, the applicant has identified the purpose as to provide a mixed-use residential and commercial development, specifically targeting the missing middle priced residential housing in Reno, Nevada near the US 580/395 A and/or the Southeast Connector (aka Veterans Parkway), to meet the local demand. The applicant believes the preferred market geographic location would be the southeast Truckee Meadows (aka south Reno) as market demand is greatest in this location.
While not part of this proposed project, the applicant has requested a Nationwide Permit 14, Linear Transportation Projects to gain access to the portion of the project area on the eastern side of Steamboat Creek (Figure 2b). Because the portion of the project area located on the eastern side of Steamboat Creek has independent utility from the project area on the western side of Steamboat Creek, the Corps is processing the request for a bridge over Steamboat Creek as a separate and independent request. However, the impacts associated with this separate request will be analyzed in the cumulative effects for the overall project.
Environmental Setting. There are approximately 11.16 acres of aquatic resources, consisting of 7.46 acres of wetlands and 13,879 linear feet/3.7 acres of relatively permanent, perennial and intermittent waters within the project area that fall under the Corps’ jurisdiction. The site is characterized by historic agricultural use which resulted in routing waters across the project site in low functioning channels and the development of wetland areas in and along these low functioning channels. The southern portion of the project site is being influenced by the large wetland on the adjacent property and the Alexander Lake Reservoir. The Alexander Lake Reservoir has been drained by the applicant through the Dam Decommissioning process with the Nevada Division for Environmental Protection. The Alexander Lake Reservoir is not an aquatic resource regulated by the Corps, as was concluded in the May 30, 2020 Approved Jurisdictional Determination that was conducted for the project site and available here: https://www.spk.usace.army.mil/Portals/12/documents/regulatory/jd/2020/May2020/ARApprvdJDForm-201700275.pdf?ver=2020-06-05-020337-460
Alternatives. The applicant has provided information concerning project alternatives. Additional information concerning project alternatives may be available from the applicant or their agent.
Off-site and on-site alternatives were considered in the applicant’s permit application. Off-site alternatives presented include an evaluation of other similarly-sized parcels (e.g. acreages range from 450 to 1200 acres) that were evaluated for their availability when the applicant purchased the property where the proposed project is sited and their proximity to existing infrastructure and water rights. The boundary for the off-site alternatives was the City of Reno. This analysis identified seven parcels that were evaluated. Of these seven properties, two were not available because they are under ownership and control of local airport authorities; four were not available for purchase in 2017 when the proposed project property was acquired, and; one property had unknown availability but failed to meet the needed water rights and infrastructure (e.g. transportation) proximity needed to support a mixed-use development.
On-site alternatives including development density and site organization were presented, in addition to alternative conceptual designs for the required flood channel on the project site. The planned use development density has been reduced providing for more on-site alternatives to incorporate open space. The City of Reno is requiring the project site to provide for passage of 1000 cubic feet per second flood flows from the Thomas Creek watershed. In addition to the proposed alignment for the flood control channel (Figure 3), the applicant evaluated two other alignments for the flood control channel (Figures 4 and 5).
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 has avoided impacts where practicable by incorporating 355.4 acres of open space for flood control, drainageways for water quality improvement, wildlife and wetland habitats, parks and hiking trails, and continued agricultural production for hay fields (Figure 6). The proposed on-site configuration of development areas, avoids and minimizes the direct impacts to aquatic resources while incorporating the open space to support on-site mitigation areas. The applicant has proposed to create and preserve a total of 8.42 acres of seasonal wetlands, create 10.03 acres of upland willow-habitat refugia near the seasonal wetlands, relocate and enhance 37.18 acres of streams, and preserve 11.43 of upland habitats that will serve as a buffer around the aquatic resources (Figures 7a and 7b).
OTHER GOVERNMENTAL AUTHORIZATIONS: Water quality certification or a waiver, as required under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act from the Nevada Division for Environmental Protection is required for this project. The applicant has indicated they have not yet applied for certification.
HISTORIC PROPERTIES: Based on the available information, including applicant's reports titled A Cultural Resources Inventory for the Daybreak Housing Development Project, Washoe County, Nevada; Addendum Cultural Resource Inventory for the Bella Vista House Development Project; and, An Architectural Inventory for the Daybreak Housing Development Project, Washoe County, Nevada, 10 potentially eligible cultural and 13 architectural resources may be affected by the proposed project. 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 project would not affect any Federally-listed threatened or endangered species or their critical habitat that are protected by the Endangered Species Act.
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‑2017‑00275 must be submitted to the office listed below on or before October 3, 2020.
Jennifer Thomason, Project Manager
US Army Corps of Engineers, Sacramento District
300 Booth Street, Room 3050 Reno, Nevada 89509
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 Jennifer Thomason, (775) 784-5304, Jennifer.C.Thomason@usace.army.mil.
Attachments: 9 drawings, 1 table