NAO-2016-0623/VMRC #16-V0516

Published April 12, 2016
Expiration date: 5/13/2016

The district comander has received a permit application for work described below: 


City of Virginia Beach

Department of Public Works

c/o Mr. Phillip J. Roehrs

2405 Courthouse Drive

Virginia Beach, VA 23456

WATERWAY AND LOCATION OF THE PROPOSED WORK:  The project is located adjacent to the Chesopeian Colony subdivision within and between Pinetree Branch (to the west) and London Bridge Creek (to the east), which are tributaries of the Eastern Branch of the Lynnhaven River in the City of Virginia Beach, Virginia.

PROPOSED WORK AND PURPOSE:  The applicant proposes to mechanically dredge approximately 54,906 cubic yards (561,164 square feet) at varying depths not to exceed -4.5 feet below mean low water (MLW) in order to allow residents to restore safe access to navigable channels in the Lynnhaven River and remove accumulated sediment in the channels and in the access basins around private owner’s docks, piers, and similar facilities. Approximately 41,924 cubic yards (426,442 square feet) was previously authorized under 88-V0259 issued by the Corps on August 20, 1992, therefore, this portion of the project is considered maintenance dredging. The remaining 12,982 cubic yards (134,722 square feet) is considered new dredging. 

The Chesopeian Colony SSD program includes 122 waterfront parcels and the waterfront homeowners have agreed to participate in the City of Virginia Beach Special Service District (SSD) program which helps carry out neighborhood dredging projects. The project proposes a 16 year three stage dredging cycle with the first dredging cycle in year two (2) and maintenance dredging events taking place every seven years on year nine (9) and year sixteen (16); however, the Corps authorization can only be issued for a maximum of ten (10) years.

The project is composed of three distinct types of channels: 1) The City Spur channel which leads off of the main channel of the Eastern Branch of the Lynnhaven River to serve multiple neighborhood waterways; 2) the neighborhood SSD channels providing access to Pinetree Branch and London Bridge Creek; and 3) the individual access basins that provide access to individual properties. 

The channel dredging will be accomplished by a barge mounted mechanical excavator, with the dredged material being loaded onto barges and transported to a transfer site. Due to the location and size of the project, there will be two transfer sites. The Eastern transfer site will be located at 421 Wolf’s Neck Trail. A temporary pile-supported platform will span the existing shoreline providing an excavator staging area, and a line of timber piles will provide mooring and staging for the barges and push boats. The Western transfer site will be located at the existing community boat ramp at the end of Queen Anne Road. Temporary stacked timber mats will be placed over existing tidal non-vegetated wetlands. The dredged material will be loaded into watertight trucks and transported for disposal to the Whitehurst Dredge Material Management Area on Oceana Boulevard. 

The proposed project will permanently impact approximately 540,876 square feet (12.42 acres) of subaqueous bottom, 19,504 square feet (0.45 acres) of non-vegetated wetlands (mudflats), and 784 square feet (0.02 acres) of vegetated wetlands. The project encroaches within the 4X buffer with potential impacts to approximately 925 square feet (0.02 acres) of vegetated wetlands. The project will temporarily impact approximated 72 square feet (0.002 acres) of subaqueous bottom and 242 square feet (0.006 acres) of non-vegetated wetlands (mudflats) associated with the transfer sites.

The proposed dredging will take place primarily in open water and the applicant has designed the dredging to avoid and minimize impacts to tidal vegetated and non-vegetated wetlands. The City Spur Channel is designed to utilize the deepest and most central portions of the existing channel, avoid unnecessary impacts to wetlands, and minimize dredge volumes. The SSD channels are designed with gradual reductions in dredging depth and width which reduces impacts as the natural channels narrow and wetlands increase towards the upstream ends. Some of the individual access basins have limiting factors which make it logistically impracticable to provide navigable access and completely avoid impacts. All impacts are shown on the attached Impact Summary Table.

As compensatory mitigation, the applicant is proposing to purchase tidal vegetated wetland credits from the Virginia Aquatic Resources Trust Fund or an operational mitigation bank which lawfully serves the Lynnhaven-Poquoson watershed. The applicant is offering compensatory mitigation for impacts to vegetated wetlands and 4X buffer encroachments at a 1:1 ratio (1,709 credits). The applicant has cited a 2007 Benthic Index of Biotic Integrity (BIBI) study that was performed on the Lynnhaven to support their position that the non-vegetated wetlands (mudflats) are severely degraded. Adjusting the Function Specific Credit Calculator (FSCC) to account for the degraded conditions, the applicant is offering compensatory mitigation for non-vegetated wetlands (mudflats) at a 0.33:1 ratio (6,435 credits). The applicant is offering no compensatory mitigation for temporary impacts or impacts to subaqueous bottom.  

In addition to the required Department of the Army permit, the applicant must obtain a Virginia Water Protection Permit/401 certification from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality assuring that applicable laws and regulations pertaining to water quality are not violated. A permit from the Virginia Marine Resources Commission and/or the City of Virginia Beach Wetlands Board may also be required. 

Project drawings are attached. The entire Joint Permit Application can be viewed from the Virginia Marine Resources Commission website by searching under 20160516:

AUTHORITY:  Permits are required pursuant to Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 (33 U.S.C. 403).

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 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 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:  (l) no environmental impact statement will be required; (2) after conducting the NAO ESA Project Review Process, there may be an effect to listed/proposed/candidate species and/or designated/proposed critical habitat under the Endangered Species Act of 1973 and the Official Species List and Species Conclusion Table is attached for review and comment by 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: 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:  or .

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 National Marine Fisheries Service on all actions, or proposed actions, permitted, funded, or undertaken by the agency, that may adversely affect Essential Fish Habitat (EFH).  Pinetree Branch and London Bridge Creek contain Essential Fish Habitat (EFH) for the egg, larval, juvenile, and adult life stages of 16 species including red hake (Urophycis chuss), windowpane flounder (Scopthalmus aquosus), Atlantic sea herring (Clupea harengus), bluefish (Pomatomus saltatrix), Atlantic butterfish (Peprilus triacanthus), summer flounder (Paralicthys dentatus), scup (Stenotomus chrysops), black sea bass (Centropristus striata), king mackerel (Scomberomorus cavalla), Spanish mackerel (Scomberomorus maculatus), cobia (Rachycentron canadum), red drum (Sciaenops occelatus), dusky shark (Charcharinus obscurus), sandbar shark (Charcharinus plumbeus), sand tiger shark (Odontaspis taurus), and Atlantic sharpnose shark (Rhizopriondon terraenovae). The habitat which this project would affect consists of shallow water areas, tidal non-vegetated wetlands (mudflats), and tidal vegetated wetlands. There is an absence of submerged aquatic vegetation and anadromous fish spawning habitat. Based on comments from the National Marine Fisheries Service in response to this public notice, further EFH consultation may be necessary.

COMMENT PERIOD:  Comments on this project should be made in writing, addressed to the Norfolk District, Corps of Engineers (ATTN: Nancy D. Hankins, CENAO-WR-R), 803 Front Street, Norfolk, Virginia  23510-1096 or via email at , and should be received by the close of business on May 13, 2016. 

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 Ms. Nancy D. Hankins at .