USA: Permit Reissued for Cape Coral Seawalls and Docks
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps), Jacksonville District reissued Programmatic General Permit (PGP) SAJ-91, authorizing the city of Cape Coral to process permits for the construction, maintenance, and repair of single-family docks and seawalls along the city shoreline.
The original five-year permit was issued in October 2007 and expired in October 2012 and has since been under review.
The Corps was unable to automatically reissue the PGP because in the interim, the Cape Coral waterways were designated as critical habitat for the endangered smalltooth sawfish, requiring consultation with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) under the provisions of the Endangered Species Act.
The Biological Opinion from NMFS, received in December 2012, stated that “work performed under the PGP would not jeopardize the continued existence of any threatened or endangered species, nor adversely modify critical habitat” and included new reporting requirements. The Corps then submitted the proposed permit to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, which determined that the proposed PGP was consistent with the state’s federally approved coastal zone management program and qualified for a water quality certification. Following a Feb. 25 resolution by the city council, the city manager for the city of Cape Coral signed a Local Operating Agreement Feb. 28, accepting the responsibility for processing future single-family dock and seawall permits and the Corps issued the final permit Feb. 28.
Programmatic general permits streamline the permit process by avoiding duplication and reducing the need for separate approvals from the Corps and the state of Florida or local municipalities for minor work in waters of the United States, including navigable waters. Further, they reduce the costs associated with permit processing and increase efficiency for applicants seeking permits for similar activities in Florida’s waters.
“The goal of the Corps’ regulatory program is to ensure balance between human needs and protection of aquatic resources,” said Tunis McElwain, chief of the Fort Myers regulatory section. “Of course, we must meet the requirements of laws such as the Endangered Species Act, whether the Corps is authorizing activities in waters of the United States or delegating that authority to another entity. Along those lines, we have worked very closely with the city and regulatory agencies throughout this process, and we are confident that issuing the PGP to the city of Cape Coral will best serve the public’s interest, achieve our goal and benefit taxpayers.”
The current PGP will remain in effect for five years unless suspended or revoked prior to expiration.
Press Release, March 1, 2013