The district commander has received a joint application for federal and state permits as described below:
WM Jordan Development, LLC
Mr. Skip Smith
PO Box 1337
Newport News, Virginia 23601
WATERWAY AND LOCATION OF THE PROPOSED WORK: The project is located in waters and wetlands associated with hydrologic unit codes (HUC) 02080206 (Deep Creek watershed and the Middle James River basin) and HUC 02080108 (Brick Kiln Creek watershed and the Lower Chesapeake basin), in Newport News, Virginia.
PROPOSED WORK AND PURPOSE: The applicant has proposed to fill 6.72 acres of palustrine forested wetlands, and 705 linear feet of a tributary drainage ditch that exhibits stream function and has bed and bank characteristics. The applicant has proposed to mitigate the wetland fill by the purchase of 13.12 wetland mitigation credits for impacts in hydrologic unit code (HUC) 02080206 and 0.32 wetland mitigation credits for impacts in HUC 02080108; and to purchase 529 stream credits for the tributary fill in HUC 02080108.
The proposed project site is located south of Oyster Point Road and between Jefferson Avenue and Canon Boulevard, in Newport News, Virginia. The project is an approximate 106-acre area that fronts on Oyster Point Road between Compass Place Office Development and Marketplace at Tech Center mixed-use facility. The Tech Center project then runs along the south side of Hogan Road from Jefferson Avenue through the Newport News School's Service Center for Operations and Transportation (SCOT) to Canon Boulevard. The project is proposing a one-million square foot technical center and research park development center that is associated with the expansion of the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility (Jefferson Labs).
Several alternative site locations within the vicinity of the preferred site were considered for the proposed project. These sites were considered acceptable locations because their size could accommodate the necessary acreage to support one-million square feet of development and location were within close proximity to the Jefferson Labs Facility. However, each of the alternative sites has several issues that render the site less desirable than the preferred location for the development of the proposed project.
Alternative Site 1 - Canon Boulevard
Alternative Site 1 is located on the east side of Canon Boulevard southeast of the intersection with Old Oyster Point Road. Several issues resulted in this site being dismissed from further review as a viable alternative. First, a large wetland is located onsite. The areas around these water bodies are classified as a Resource Protection Area (RPA) under the Chesapeake Bay Preservation Act. The ability to avoid and minimize onsite impacts would result in approximately 40 acres of impacts to the wetland. Second, the property is only 42 acres in size and is one of two properties within the 2 kilometer radius of Jefferson Labs. However, the size of this property would limit the size of the development and the client's ability to meet the needs of the potential users. Being able to build out a building to a client's specific needs will be critical for the best utilization of the end user. Finally, this property is part of the Canon Campus development and is not available for purchase. The cost of the land at this location and the limited size of the developable land are not adequate for a return on the investment.
Alternative Site 2 - Commonwealth Drive
Alternative Site 2 is located at the end of Commonwealth Drive southeast of the intersection with Victory Drive. Due to property size constraints, the development of this site would result in a small retail footprint, with approximately 105,000 square feet of retail space being developed. Several issues resulted in this site being dismissed from further review as a viable alternative. First, the property is currently under development and is not available. It is approximately 48 acres and is located at the edge of the 2 kilometers radius from Jefferson Labs. The size of this property would limit the size of the development and the client's ability to meet the needs of the potential users. Being able to build out a building to a client's specific needs will be critical for the best utilization of the end user. Second, there are about 10 acres of wetlands and the floodplain of Brick Kiln is located onsite. The areas around these water bodies are classified as a Resource Protection Area (RPA) under the Chesapeake Bay Preservation Act. The ability to avoid and minimize onsite impacts would result in either approximately 10 acres of impacts to the wetland or less than 40 acres for development. Third, the property is only 48 acres in size and is one of two properties within or at the 2 kilometer radius of Jefferson Labs. However, the size of this property would limit the size of the development and the client's ability to meet the needs of the potential users. Finally, this property is part of the current development and is not available for purchase. The cost of the land at this location and the limited size of the developable land are not adequate for a return on the investment.
Alternative Site 3 - Airport Property
Alternative Site 3 is located north of the intersection of Cherokee Drive and McManus Boulevard and northwest of airport. This land is owned by the Airport Authority and is approximately 163 acres in size. Several issues resulted in this site being dismissed from further review as a viable alternative. First, the property is currently owned by the Airport Authority and is proposed for future expansion of the airport. It is approximately 163 acres and is located at almost 4 kilometers from Jefferson Labs. Second, there are about 80 acres of wetlands located onsite. The ability to avoid and minimize onsite impacts would result in a patch work development that would be spread out and difficult to develop. Developing around a centralized hub is much more efficient and cost effective.
In the process of planning the preferred alternative there were numerous plans developed with each plan taking into account factors such as: environmental impacts, alignment of the particle accelerator, zoning, roadway alignment, traffic, stormwater, development space, and construction requirements. All but the initial site plan considered impacts to the wetlands. All of the development plans considered the future alignment of the particle accelerator. Then consideration was given to requirements for setbacks from roadways, parking for tenants, traffic movement through the development, orientation of the buildings, construction cost, and land costs. The final consideration· and the most important to the client is ability to maximize the development in relation to the land cost. This location is a prime real estate assets and the cost to develop it can be limited by the cost of the land and the return to the investors.
The onsite constraints that are a part of the site development plans include the following:
Impacts to wetlands;
Wetland mitigation costs;
Nutrient credit costs;
Future alignment of the particle accelerator;
A centralized development hub;
Close proximity to the Jefferson Labs Facility;
Close proximity to the Ethernet hub;
Access to a mixed use facility to live and work;
Roadway alignment and geometry; and
Several iterations of the preferred alternative have been reviewed during the development of the proposed site plans. These alternative site plans are discussed below.
Alternative Site Plan 1
This alternative site plan was the initial plan that was developed once the property had been identified as potential development site. This development plan was directly impacted by the alignment of the particle accelerator. Access to the east and Canon Boulevard is prohibited by the particle accelerator. Impacts to the wetlands were approximately 18 acres. This plan was abandoned because of the excessive wetland impact required for the site development.
Alternative Site Plan 2
This alternative site plan was another preliminary attempt to plan the development and work around the future alignment of the particle accelerator and wetlands onsite. The planner estimated the location of the wetlands and proposed to impact approximately 11 acres of wetlands onsite. This plan was abandoned because the return on investment did not work out.
Alternative Site Plan 3
This alternative plan was developed because of the realignment of the particle accelerator within the boundary of the Jefferson Labs Facility. The wetland impact in the large wetland onsite was reduced to 8. 7 acres and the total wetland impacts 12.07 acres and the stream impacts were 1,204 linear feet of perennial drainage ditch impacts. In this plan the detention ponds were located in the wetland system. This plan was a recently developed plan. Building layouts and parking lot space were reconfigured and shifted to minimize impacts. This plan was abandoned because of the excessive wetland impact required for the site development.
The preferred alternative is proposing 6.72 acres of total wetland impacts and 705 linear feet of perennial drainage ditch impacts. In order to achieve this reduced impact, the developer eliminated all detention in wetlands and moved the main roadway away from a 4 acre property that is mostly wetland. To move the roadway the developer had to push the roadway geometry to the maximum curvature for safety. They further reduced impacts by compressing the development plan by making some buildings multi-story, reduced and stacked parking, and minimizing landscaping. This is a costly proposition for the developer, but the additional square footage of development space was needed to offset the land cost, reduce the wetland impacts, and provide the necessary return on investment. To further insure that environmental impacts are minimized, the developer will be developing this project in four phases. This will insure that wetland and stream impacts will only occur once a development milestone for occupancy will be achieved. Phase I will be a three building complex that is located on the south side of Hogan Road. Then Phase II will include an extension of Hogan Road, a five building complex and two parking garages. Phase III will include the realignment and extension of Village Green Parkway from Oyster Point Road, one new building, parking and stormwater ponds. Finally, Phase IV will include the extension of Compass Way to Canon Boulevard, two new buildings, parking and stormwater ponds. Wetland and stream impacts that occur during each of the phases will be mitigated prior to the start of work in each development phase.
The Jefferson Labs facility that is located in Newport News, Virginia is one of 17 labs that receive funding from the Department of Energy (DOE). The lab also receives support from the city of Newport News and the Commonwealth of Virginia. The location of Jefferson Labs is unique because it is not directly located and associated with a single university campus. The development of a research park offers a unique opportunity for the involved universities to establish an off-campus facility where access is equal between the participants.
The purpose of this development is to support and expand the capacity of the Jefferson Labs and bring high skill and high paying jobs to the local region. This facility will provide laboratory space, additional testing facilities, office space, access to a secure data backbone and close access to the Jefferson Labs Facility. This development includes an office development, laboratory complex, entrepreneurial development and technology center.
The proposed development is linked to the Jefferson Labs and the expansion of its unique particle accelerator, known as the Continuous Electron Beam Accelerator Facility (CEBAF). In addition to the accelerator is access to the Free-Electron Laser, other testing facilities and the secure data backbone and an enhanced data exchange through Southeastern Universities Research Association (SURA) and its partnership with Atlantic Wave. The potential anchor tenants for this development will be SURA and its sixty member universities. The universities in Virginia that could use these facilities are: Virginia Polytechnic Institute, Old Dominion University, University of Virginia, College of William and Mary and others. These facilities will also be available to various technology based businesses.
The secure data backbone that is provided by SURA to this site will allow the researchers to have high speed internet capacity. This will allow the researchers to access large high speed computers from their remote locations. To access these systems users will have to be within 2 kilometers of the secure data hub.
The applicant conducted a database search of the National Register of Historic Places, and coordinated with the city of Newport News Department of Planning and Development to review any potential effects to onsite or offsite historic resources as a result of the proposed project. Their review did not identify any known historic resources within the project site, or within a one-mile radius of the project site. Therefore, it is not anticipated that the proposed project would have an adverse effect on any known historic resources.
Fish and Wildlife Resources
The applicant completed reviews of the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF) Fish and Wildlife Information Service database (VaFWIS), the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) Natural Heritage Inventory (NHI) database, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) Information, Planning, and Conservations System (IPaC) to determine the potential for state or federally listed threatened and endangered species in the project vicinity. The USFWS IPaC database (IPaC Tracking # 05E2VA00-2013-SLI-1383), which identifies federally protected species within, or affected by, the subject site, does list the Northern long-eared bat (Myotis septentionalis) as threatened. The DCR NHD database, which searches the Lower James River watershed, lists four protected species within the watershed: the peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus), Atlantic sturgeon (Acipenser oxyrinchus), canebrake rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus) and, northern long-eared bat. The VaFWIS database, which searches a 3-mile radius around the project site, lists 18 species within the search radius. However, habitat most of these species is not found on the proposed project site.
Since the project is impacting a large wooded area, there is the potential that the Cane-brake rattlesnake could be found on the property. As the wooded area on the property is mostly wetland there is minimal habitat for this species. In order to assure that no adverse impact will occur to the rattlesnake, the applicant is willing to conduct an awareness program. This program will explain the habitat and identification of the Cane-brake rattlesnake to each individual that is working on the development site.
The large wooded area that is associated with the property also is habitat for the Northern longeared bat. The large trees in the local area create summer lodging and nesting areas and the edge would provide potential feeding areas. However, the lack of permanent water and the fragmentation of habitat in this area provides minimal habitat.
The applicant’s assessment is that the proposed project is not likely to adversely affect (NLTAA) any federal or state endangered or threatened species.
In addition to the required Department of the Army permit, the applicant must obtain a Virginia Water Protection Permit from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) assuring that applicable laws and regulations pertaining to water quality are not violated. Project drawings are attached.
AUTHORITY: Permits are required pursuant to 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 classification, 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 U.S. Army 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 U.S. Army 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 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. 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.
Preliminary review indicates that: (1) no environmental impact statement will be required; (2) after conducting the NAO ESA Project Review Process, some listed/proposed/candidate species and/or designated/proposed critical habitat under the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (16 U.S.C. 1531-1544, 87 Stat. 884), as amended) may be affected. As this may be an affect to listed/proposed/candidate species and/or designated/proposed critical habitat under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, the Official Species List and Species Conclusion Table is attached for review and comment by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; and (3) no known properties eligible for inclusion or included in the National Register of Historic Places are in or near the permit area, or would likely be affected by the proposal. Additional information might change any of these findings.
For compliance with the Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972, as amended for projects located in Tidewater, 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 Coastal Zone Management Program (VCP) and obtain concurrence from the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), Office of Environmental Impact Review (OEIR). We have not received a certification from the applicant prior to publication of this public notice. It is the applicant’s responsibility to submit a consistency certification to the Office of Environmental Impact Review 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 here: http://www.deq.virginia.gov/Programs/EnvironmentalImpactReview/FederalConsistencyReviews.aspx#cert .
For more information or to obtain a list of the enforceable policies of the VCP, contact the Department of Environmental Quality, Office of Environmental Impact Review at (804) 698-4330 or e-mail: email@example.com.
COMMENT PERIOD: Comments on this project should be made by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or in writing, addressed to the Norfolk District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (ATTN: EVANS, CENAO-WR-R), 803 Front Street, Norfolk, Virginia 23510-1096, and should be received by the close of business on Aug. 13, 2015.
PRIVACY & 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 email@example.com or call 757-201-7794.