[Federal Register: March 26, 1998 (Volume 63, Number 58)]
[Page 14727-14728]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Availability of Environmental Assessment, Preliminary Finding of 
No Significant Impact and Receipt of Application for a Habitat 
Conservation Plan/Appplication for Incidental Take Permit for a Project 
Known as Lantana Ocean Front, Brevard County, FL

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice.


SUMMARY: Mr. Maurice Kodsi, of Lantana Development of Brevard, Inc. 
(Applicant) is seeking an incidental take permit (ITP) from the Fish 
and Wildlife Service (Service), pursuant to section 10(a)(1)(B) of the 
Endangered Species Act of 1973 (Act), as amended. The ITP would 
authorize the take of one family of the federally threatened Florida 
scrub-jay, Aphelocoma coerulescens, in Brevard County, Florida, for a 
period of 10 years. The proposed taking would be incidental to 
construction of a 96-unit condominium called Lantana Ocean Front, a 
Condominium, also known as the Milford/Martesia Site (Project). The 
Project will involve the clearing of 4.7 acres of a 10-acre site for 
the construction of four, four-story buildings, separate garages, a 
swimming pool with bath house, a dune crossover, and parking. The 
remaining 5.3 acres of the property, which lies seaward, is below the 
Indian Harbour Beach Setback Line, and will be preserved. A pair of 
Florida scrub-jays occupies 2.2 acres of the developable property which 
will be permanently altered by the proposed construction activity.
    The project, called Lantana Ocean Front, a Condominium, also known 
as the Milford/Martesia Site, is located east of and bordering Highway 
A1A approximately one mile north of State Road 518 (Eau Gallie 
Causeway), in Section 12, Township 27 South, Range 37 East, in the 
central beaches area of Indian Harbour, Brevard County, Florida.
    The Service also announces the availability of an Environmental 
Assessment (EA) on the submitted application for incidental take/
Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP). Copies of the EA and/or HCP may be 
obtained by making a request to the Regional Office (see ADDRESSES). 
This notice also advises the public that the Service has made a 
preliminary determination that re-issuing the ITP is not a major 
Federal action significantly affecting the quality of the human 
environment within the meaning of Section 102(2)(C) of the National 
Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA), as amended. This Finding of No 
Significant Impact (FONSI) is based on information contained in the EA 
and HCP. Further, the Service specifically requests comment on the 
appropriateness of the ``No Surprises'' assurances contained in this 
application. ``No Surprises'' means that the applicant will not be 
required to pay for mitigation beyond that contained in the application 
at any time in the future, so long as the species are adequately 
covered and the HCP is properly functioning. The Service will evaluate 
this application, associated documents, and comments submitted thereon 
to determine whether the application meets the requirements of NEPA 
regulations and Section 10(a) of the Act. If it is determined that the 
requirements are met, an ITP will be issued for the incidental take of 
the Florida scrub-jay. The final determinations will not be completed 
until after the end of the 30-day comment period and will fully 
consider all public comments received during the comment period. This 
notice is provided pursuant to Section 10(c) of the Act and NEPA 
regulations (40 CFR 1506.6).

DATES: Written comments on the application/HCP, and EA should be sent 
to the Service's Regional Office (see ADDRESSES) and should be received 
on or before April 27, 1998.

ADDRESSES: Persons wishing to review the application/HCP and EA may 
obtain a copy by writing the Service's Southeast Regional Office, 
Atlanta, Georgia. Documents will also be available for public 
inspection by appointment during normal business hours at the Regional 
Office, 1875 Century Boulevard, Suite 200, Atlanta, Georgia 30345 
(Attn: Endangered Species Permits), or at the Jacksonville, Florida, 
Field Office, 6620 Southpoint Drive, South, Suite 310, Jacksonville, 
Florida 32216-0912. Written data or comments concerning the 
application, EA, or HCP should be submitted to the Regional Office. 
Comments must be submitted in writing to be processed. Please reference 
permit PRT-840501 in such comments, or in requests for the documents 
discussed herein. Requests

[[Page 14728]]

for the documents must be in writing to be adequately processed.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mr. Rick G. Gooch, Regional Permit 
Coordinator, Atlanta, Georgia (see ADDRESSES above), telephone: 404/
679-7110; or Mr. Jay Herrington at the Jacksonville, Florida, Field 
Office (see ADDRESSES above), telephone: 904/232-2580.
SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Aphelocoma coerulescens is geographically 
isolated from other species of scrub-jays found in Mexico and the 
Western United States. The Florida scrub-jay is found exclusively in 
peninsular Florida and is restricted to scrub habitat. The total 
estimated population is between 7,000 and 11,000 individuals. Due to 
habitat loss and degradation throughout the state of Florida, it has 
been estimated that the Florida scrub-jay population has been reduced 
by at least half in the last 100 years. Surveys indicate that one 
family of Florida scrub-jays inhabits the Project site. Construction of 
the Project's infrastructure and subsequent construction of the 
condominium will likely result in the death of, or injury to, 
Aphelocoma coerulescens incidental to the carrying out of the otherwise 
lawful activities. Habitat alteration associated with property 
development will reduce the availability of feeding, shelter, and 
nesting habitat.
    The EA considers the consequences of the three alternatives. The 
first alternative, the proposed action alternative, is issuance of an 
ITP with the requirement that all lost habitat be mitigated by 
replacement via acquisition of habitat off of the barrier island. 
Further, this alternative provides for restrictions of construction 
activity, purchase of offsite habitat for the Florida scrub-jay, 
establishment of an endowment fund for managing the offsite acquired 
habitat, and donation of the additional offsite habitat. The HCP 
provides a funding mechanism for these mitigation measures. The second 
alternative is issuance of an ITP with mitigation on the barrier 
island. Cumulative impacts of historical development has left the 
remaining scrub habitat extremely fragmented and spatially isolated. 
Consequently, predation rates have increased and reproductive success 
has decreased. This alternative discusses the consequences of this 
mitigation approach to the overall success of achieving effective 
habitat/species replacement. The no action alternative may result in 
loss of habitat for Aphelocoma coerulescens and exposure of the 
applicant to Section 9 of the Act.
    As stated above, the Service has made a preliminary determination 
that the issuance of an amended ITP is not a major Federal action 
significantly affecting the quality of the human environment within the 
meaning of Section 102(2)(C) of NEPA. This preliminary information may 
be revised due to public comment received in response to this notice 
and is based on information contained in the EA, HCP, and appropriate 
amendments. An appropriate excerpt from the FONSI reflecting the 
Service's finding on the application is provided below:
    Based on the analysis conducted by the Service, it has been 
determined that:
    1. Issuance of an ITP would not have significant effects on the 
human environment in the project area.
    2. The proposed take is incidental to an otherwise lawful activity.
    3. The applicant has ensured that adequate additional funding will 
be provided to implement the measures proposed in the submitted HCP.
    4. Other than impacts to endangered and threatened species as 
outlined in the documentation of this decision, the indirect impacts 
which may result from issuance of the ITP are addressed by other 
regulations and statutes under the jurisdiction of other government 
entities. The validity of the Service's ITP is contingent upon the 
Applicant's compliance with the terms of his permit and all other laws 
and regulations under the control of State, local, and other Federal 
governmental entities.
    The Service will also evaluate whether the issuance of the amended 
Section 10(a)(1)(B) ITP complies with Section 7 of the Act by 
conducting an intra-Service Section 7 consultation. The results of the 
biological opinions, in combination with the above findings, will be 
used in the final analysis to determine whether or not to issue this 

    Dated: March 20, 1998.
H. Dale Hall,
Deputy Regional Director.
[FR Doc. 98-7885 Filed 3-25-98; 8:45 am]