US Army Corps of Engineers
Norfolk District Website

NAO-2021-01135 / VMRC# 21-V0533

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Norfolk District
Published May 7, 2021
Expiration date: 6/7/2021

CENAO-WRR

NAO-2021-01135 / VMRC# 21-V0533

FEDERAL PUBLIC NOTICE

The District Commander has received a joint application for Federal and State permits as described below:

APPLICANT
Microsoft Corporation
c/o Ms. Lara Pollitt
One Microsoft Way
Redmond, Washington 98052

PROJECT LOCATION: the proposed work will occur at the terminus of Ridge Road in Boydton, Virginia.

PROJECT SIZE: the project area consists of a 335.38 acre parcel north of route 58 and on Ridge Road in Mecklenburg County, Virginia.

NEAREST WATERWAY: Allen Creek.

LATITUDE AND LONGITUDE: 36.68964 / -78.36004

PROJECT DESCRIPTION AND PURPOSE:  Microsoft proposes to construct a new data center facility to house servers used in cloud-based computing.  This facility will be constructed as part of a multi-phased campus development, which will consist of data center buildings, administration buildings, substations, a tank farm, parking, access roads, and security buildings.  The campus will result in the permanent loss of 0.502 acres of wetlands, 2,069 linear feet of intermittent stream, & 992 linear feet of perennial stream, as well as temporary impacts to 0.03 acres of wetlands and 149 linear feet of stream.

AVOIDANCE AND MINIMIZATION:  the applicant has designed their campus layout to minimize impacts to wetlands and waters while still achieving their project purpose, and plans to offset their unavoidable impacts with compensatory mitigation.

COMPENSATORY MITIGATION: Due to a lack of availability of both mitigation bank credits and VARTF stream credits, the applicant proposes to compensate for the proposed impacts with Permittee Responsible Mitigation (PRM), via Crooked Creek Farm South PRM Project.  The applicant has provided a firm and approvable plan of action as part of their application that provides the required compensation for unavoidable impacts resulting from their proposed activity.

In addition, the applicant must obtain an Individual Section 401 Water Quality Certification or waiver from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) assuring that applicable laws and regulations pertaining to water quality are not violated.  

Copy of the joint permit application can be found on the Virginia Marine Resources Commission’s website here.

AUTHORITY:

Sections 401 and 404 of the Clean Water Act (Public Law 95-217) and Title 62.1 of the Code of Virginia.

FEDERAL EVALUATION OF APPLICATION:  The decision whether to issue a permit will be based on an evaluation of the probable impact including cumulative impacts of the proposed activity on the public interest.  The decision will reflect the national concern for both protection and utilization of important resources.  The benefits which reasonably may be expected from the proposal must be balanced against its reasonably foreseeable detriments.  All of the proposal's relevant factors will be considered, including conservation, economics, aesthetics, general environmental concerns, wetlands, cultural values, fish and wildlife values, flood hazards, flood plain 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 Environmental Protection Agency's "Guidelines for Specification of Disposal Sites for Dredged or Fill Material" will also be applied (Section 404(b)(1) of the Clean Water Act).

The Corps of Engineers 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 direct, indirect, and cumulative impacts of this proposed activity.  Any comments received will be considered by the Corps of Engineers 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 (EIS) pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act.  Preliminary review of the application indicates that no EIS will be required.

Comments are also used to determine the need for a public hearing and to determine the overall public interest of the proposed activity.  Anyone may request a public hearing to consider this permit application by writing to the District Commander within 30 days of the date of this notice, stating specific reasons for holding the public hearing.  The District Commander will then decide if a hearing should be held.

ENDANGERED SPECIES: after conducting the Norfolk District Endangered Species Act (ESA) Project Review Process, the Corps has made the preliminary determination that:

No listed/proposed/candidate species and/or designated/proposed critical habitat under the ESA of 1973 (16 U.S.C. 1531-1544, 87 Stat. 884), as amended, will be affected.  Based on this “no effect” determination, no further coordination with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) or National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) is required.

The Northern long-eared bat may be affected, but the FWS Information and Planning and Consultation (IPaC) 4(d) determination key was completed and no further coordination with the FWS is required.

There may be an effect to listed/proposed/candidate species and/or designated/proposed critical habitat under the ESA of 1973. The IPaC Official Species List and Species Conclusion Table are attached for review and comment by the FWS and the NMFS.

Additional information might change any of these findings.

HISTORIC AND CULTURAL RESOURCES:

No known Historic Resources eligible for inclusion or included in the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) are in or near the Corps permit area or would likely be affected by the proposal.

  Historic Resources eligible for inclusion or included in the NRHP are in or near the Corps permit area or would likely be affected by the proposal.

Additional information may change any of these findings.

ESSENTIAL FISH HABITAT: The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, as amended by the Sustainable Fisheries Act of 1996 (Public Law 104-267), requires all Federal agencies to consult with the NMFS on all actions, or proposed actions, permitted, funded, or undertaken by the agency, that may adversely affect Essential Fish Habitat (EFH).

 There is no EFH in the Corps area of responsibility.

VIRGINIA’S COASTAL ZONE MANAGEMENT PROGRAM: For compliance with the Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972, as amended for projects located in Virginia’s Coastal Zone, the applicant must certify that federally licensed or permitted activities affecting Virginia's coastal uses or resources will be conducted in a manner consistent with the Virginia’s Coastal Zone Management Program (Virginia CZM Program), and obtain concurrence from the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), Office of Environmental Impact Review (OEIR). It is the applicant’s responsibility to submit a consistency certification to the OEIR for concurrence or objection, and proof of concurrence must be submitted to the Corps prior to final permit issuance. A template federal consistency certification can be found in the Federal Consistency Manual here: https://www.deq.virginia.gov/permits-regulations/environmental-impact-review/federal-consistency .  For more information or to obtain a list of the enforceable policies of the Virginia CZM Program, contact the DEQ-OEIR at (804) 698-4204 or e-mail: bettina.rayfield@deq.virginia.gov.

No concurrence is required because the project is not located within Virginia’s Coastal Zone.

VIRGINIA’S SECTION 401 WATER QUALITY CERTIFICATION PROGRAM: The applicant must obtain, from the Virginia DEQ, a Clean Water Act Section 401 Water Quality Certification for any federal license or permit that authorizes an activity that may result in a discharge into waters of the U.S. (40 CFR Part 121).  As the Certifying Authority, the Virginia DEQ may grant, grant with conditions, or deny a certification request.  Alternatively, the Virginia DEQ may waive, expressly or implicitly, its authority to act on a certification request.  In either case, a written notice of waiver from DEQ (expressly waived) or from the Corps (implicitly waived), satisfies the project proponent’s requirement to obtain certification.

PRE-FILING MEETING (PFM)

The applicant has not requested a PFM with DEQ.

COMMENT PERIOD:  Comments on this project should be in writing and can be sent by either email to matt.m.wicks@usace.army.mil, or by regular mail, addressed to the Norfolk District, Corps of Engineers (ATTN: Matthew Wicks CENAO-WRR), 803 Front Street, Norfolk, VA  23510-1011, and should be received by the close of business on June 7, 2021.

PRIVACY AND CONFIDENTIALITY:  Comments and information, including the identity of the submitter, submitted in response to this Public Notice may be disclosed, reproduced, and distributed at the discretion of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.  Information that is submitted in connection with this Public Notice cannot be maintained as confidential by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.  Submissions should not include any information that the submitter seeks to preserve as confidential.

If you have any questions about this project or the permit process, contact

Mr. Wicks at the email listed above or at 757-201-7540.