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IN A NUTSHELL …
The Summers End Group has been forced to resubmit their Army Corps permit application because the previous application has been determined to be incomplete. In March the US Fish and Wildlife Service rescinded the grant that had been given to SEG. The Army Corps then became the lead agency and they reviewed the application, requested a new submission from SEG, and will publish a new Public Notice. At that time we will most likely need to resubmit our comment letters. What did SEG change in their “new” application? Virtually nothing, except they totally removed the 75 position mooring field. It’s still the same environmentally destructive mega marina on 1,333 steel pilings, covering 28 acres of Coral Bay. So when the time comes we will need to find the comment letters we sent in January and resubmit them. Instructions to follow …
THE FULL STORY …
You remember this past January and February when we submitted thousands of letters in opposition to the Summers End Group mega marina plans. You remember that five federal agencies voiced strong objections to the SEG plans. And in March the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) rescinded the federal grant that had previously been awarded to SEG.
Last year, when SEG filed their Army Corps permit application, the FWS was still on the record as having awarded a funding grant to SEG. According to federal regulations FWS, as a funding agency, thereby became the “lead agency” in the NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) review of the Army Corps permit. However, when FWS pulled the plug on the grant in March, they lost that lead agency status and the project came back to the Army Corps of Engineers as lead agency.
The first thing the Corps did was assign a new project manager to the permit review. The first thing the new project manager did was take a fresh look at the permit application and he concluded that it had multiple deficiencies and was “incomplete”. He told SEG that they needed to correct those deficiencies and submit a new permit application. That all happened in April.
Last week we received a copy of the “new” permit application submitted to the Army Corps by SEG. It is virtually identical to the original plan with a few exceptions. First, they have removed the “mooring field” that was never adequately described or designed in the original plan. They’ve made no changes whatsoever to the 145 slip mega marina. They’ve included a description of the land-based project components in the application. Based on these changes the Corps is now preparing a new “Public Notice” announcing a new Public Comment Period. The notice could be published as soon as this week.
Clearly, the “new application” does not address any of the major flaws identified by our group and all the federal agencies.
What does all of this mean? Basically, SEG has been forced back to square one in their Army Corps permit application process. This gives us an opportunity to update our comments, if necessary. There’s nothing to do right now, and I will keep everyone informed as soon as any new information surfaces. We all know the drill – when the time comes, if necessary, we will send in our comment letters and get the job done. Our lawyers will be all over the case with our formal comments, revised to reflect any changes in the application.
All of the prior federal agency comments are in the public record and since Summers End has not addressed any of the issues raised in those comments, they are still perfectly valid. The designation of all of Coral Bay as an “Aquatic Resource of National Importance (ARNI)” still holds and provides the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with the authority to veto any Army Corps permit which does not address the concerns of the EPA.
So this is just another part of the process, ensuring a “by the book” review of the SEG permit application – a little extra work for us, but a lot of additional time, delay and expense for SEG – none of which they have to spare.