Issue Date: June 7, 2018
Comment Deadline: July 9, 2018
Corps Action ID Number: SAW-2015-00317
The Wilmington District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) has received an application from Mr. Ken Merner of Boyd Homes seeking Department of the Army (DA) authorization to impact 28.9 acres of wetlands and 4,562 linear feet of waters of the United States to construct Camden Plantation, a 598 acre mixed-use residential and commercial development with recreational amenities located off the east side of US Highway 17, north of South Mills, in Camden County, North Carolina.
Specific plans and location information are described below and shown on the attached plans. This Public Notice and all attached plans are also available on the Wilmington District Web Site at:
Applicant: Mr. Ken Merner
544 Newtown Road, Suite 128
Virginia Beach, Virginia 23462
AGENT (if applicable): Mr. Robert Kerr
Kerr Environmental Services Corporation
1008 Old Virginia Beach Road, Suite 200
Virginia Beach, Virginia 23451
The Corps evaluates this application and decides whether to issue, conditionally issue, or deny the proposed work pursuant to applicable procedures of the following Statutory
Section 404 of the Clean Water Act (33 U.S.C. 1344)
The project is located off of the east side of US Highway 17 North, approximately three miles south of the Virginia border, across from the Dismal Swamp Canal Welcome Center, north of the community of South Mills, in Camden County, North Carolina.
Project Area (acres): Approximately 598 acres
Nearest Town: South Mills
Nearest Waterways: Dismal Swamp Canal / Cypress Run / Joyce Creek
River Basin: Pasquotank/Albemarle Sound (HUC 03010205)
Existing Site Conditions
The approximately 598 acre property is bounded to the north and east by McPherson Road and low-density residential and agricultural land, to the south by forested and agricultural land, and to the west by U.S. Highway 17. The Dismal Swamp Canal and North Carolina’s Dismal Swamp State Park are located immediately to the west of the property.
The site was logged in the early 1990s and is currently in agricultural and silvicultural production. The wooded areas are primarily vegetated with a mixed pine-hardwood assemblage characteristic of outer coastal plain flatwoods including loblolly pine, red maple, sweetgum, water oak, laurel oak, and swamp white oak tree species. A majority of the soils mapped on the site are hydric and include the Portsmouth, Tomotley, Perquimans, Roanoke, and Nimmo series. A small area of non-hydric soil (Augusta series) is mapped at the northeastern corner of the property. The site contains 46.90 acres of palustrine forested (PFO) wetlands. The property also contains an extensive matrix of ditches removing hydrology from large portions of the property resulting in fragmented wetland areas. An intermittent relatively permanent water (RPW) traverses the center of the property and flows southwest into the Dismal Swamp Canal. The Dismal Swamp Canal is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is an active federal project managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Norfolk District. A perennial RPW is located along the southern boundary of the property that directs water in two directions:
a) west to the Dismal Swamp Canal, and b) east to Cypress Run, a tributary of Joyce Creek that is also an active federal project managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Wilmington District.
Applicant’s Stated Purpose
The applicant’s stated purpose for the project is to construct an economically viable, residential and commercial mixed-use development to serve Camden County, North Carolina, along the U.S. Route 17 corridor that satisfies all municipal development requirements for Smart Growth and contributes to the tax base of the County.
As proposed, Camden Plantation will be developed in four phases involving the construction of approximately 1,750 new residential units, associated roads and utilities infrastructure, a commercial center with a minimum of 160,000 square feet of retail/commercial/office space, an 18-hole golf course, and other recreational amenities (tennis, swimming, trail and park system). Anticipated services to be provided include a grocery store and complimentary retail business, medical/dental offices, and general office space. The project will impact a total of 4,562 linear feet of waters of the United States and 28.90 acres of nontidal wetlands, including the permanent loss of 27.96 acres of palustrine forested (PFO) wetlands and the conversion of 0.94 acres of PFO wetlands to palustrine emergent (PEM) wetlands.
Avoidance and Minimization
A number of alternatives were identified and evaluated by the applicant during the preapplication process including consideration of other properties, as well as the adjustment of onsite configurations resulting in the avoidance of an additional 4.43 acres of permanent impacts to wetlands. Detailed descriptions of all alternatives may be reviewed in the application and applicant-prepared support document.
The applicant proposes to offset the permanent impacts to approximately 27.96 acres of palustrine forested wetlands (PFO) and conversion impacts to approximately 0.94 acres of PFO to palustrine emergent wetlands (PEM) through the purchase of non-tidal wetland credits from an approved mitigation bank at a ratio of 2:1 for PFO, and 1:1 for conversion from PFO to PEM. Additionally, the applicant proposes to preserve in perpetuity the remaining 17.24 acres of PFO wetlands on the property through the recordation of deed instruments.
Essential Fish Habitat
Pursuant to the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, this Public Notice initiates the Essential Fish Habitat (EFH) consultation requirements. The Corps’ initial determination is that the proposed project would not affect EFH or associated fisheries managed by the South Atlantic or Mid Atlantic Fishery Management Councils or the National Marine Fisheries Service.
Pursuant to Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, Appendix C of 33 CFR Part 325, and the 2005 Revised Interim Guidance for Implementing Appendix C, the District Engineer consulted district files and records and the latest published version of the National Register of Historic Places and initially determines that:
No historic properties, nor properties eligible for inclusion in the National Register, are present within the Corps’ permit area; therefore, there will be no historic properties affected. The Corps subsequently requests concurrence from the SHPO (or THPO).
The District Engineer’s final eligibility and effect determination will be based upon coordination with the SHPO and/or THPO, as appropriate and required, and with full consideration given to the proposed undertaking’s potential direct and indirect effects on historic properties within the Corps-identified permit area.
Pursuant to the Endangered Species Act of 1973, the Corps reviewed the project area, examined all information provided by the applicant and consulted the latest North Carolina Natural Heritage Database. Based on available information:
The Corps determines that the proposed project may affect federally listed endangered or threatened species or their formally designated critical habitat.
This may affect, likely to adversely affect determination for the Northern longeared bat (Myotis septentrionalis) relies on the findings of the January 5, 2016, Programmatic Biological Opinion for the Final 4(d) Rule on the Northern longeared bat.
Other Required Authorizations
The Corps forwards this notice and all applicable application materials to the appropriate State agencies for review.
North Carolina Division of Water Resources (NCDWR): The Corps will generally not make a final permit decision until the NCDWR issues, denies, or waives the state Certification as required by Section 401 of the Clean Water Act (PL 92-500). The receipt of the application and this public notice, combined with the appropriate application fee, at the NCDWR Central Office in Raleigh constitutes initial receipt of an application for a 401 Certification. A waiver will be deemed to occur if the NCDWR fails to act on this request for certification within sixty days of receipt of a complete application. Additional information regarding the 401 Certification may be reviewed at the NCDWR Central Office, 401 and Buffer Permitting Unit, 512 North Salisbury Street, Raleigh, North Carolina 27604-2260. All persons desiring to make comments regarding the application for a 401 Certification should do so, in writing, by June 29, 2018 to:
NCDWR Central Office
Attention: Ms. Karen Higgins, 401 and Buffer Permitting Unit
(USPS mailing address): 1617 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-1617
(Physical address): 512 North Salisbury Street, Raleigh, North Carolina 27604
North Carolina Division of Coastal Management (NCDCM):
The application did not include a certification that the proposed work complies with and would be conducted in a manner that is consistent with the approved North Carolina Coastal Zone Management Program. Pursuant to 33 CFR 325.2 (b)(2) the Corps cannot issue a Department of Army (DA) permit for the proposed work until the applicant submits such a certification to the Corps and the NCDCM, and the NCDCM notifies the Corps that it concurs with the applicant’s consistency certification. As the application did not include the consistency certification, the Corps will request, upon receipt,, concurrence or objection from the NCDCM.
The decision whether to issue a permit will be based on an evaluation of the probable impacts including cumulative impacts of the proposed activity on the public interest. That decision will reflect the national concern for both protection and utilization of important resources. The benefit which reasonably may be expected to accrue from the proposal must be balanced against its reasonably foreseeable detriments. All factors which may be relevant to the proposal will be considered including the cumulative effects thereof; among those are conservation, economics, aesthetics, general environmental concerns, wetlands, historic properties, fish and wildlife values, flood hazards, flood plain values (in accordance with Executive Order 11988), land use, navigation, shoreline erosion and accretion, recreation, water supply and conservation, water quality, energy needs, safety, food and fiber production, mineral needs, considerations of property ownership, and, in general, the needs and welfare of the people. For activities involving the discharge of dredged or fill materials in waters of the United States, the evaluation of the impact of the activity on the public interest will include application of the Environmental Protection Agency’s 404(b)(1) guidelines.
The Corps of Engineers is soliciting comments from the public; Federal, State and local
agencies and officials, including any consolidated State Viewpoint or written position of
the Governor; Indian Tribes and other interested parties in order to consider and evaluate
the 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 (EA) and/or an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)
pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Comments are also used to
determine the need for a public hearing and to determine the overall public interest of the
Any person may request, in writing, within the comment period specified in this notice, that a public hearing be held to consider the application. Requests for public hearings shall state, with particularity, the reasons for holding a public hearing. Requests for a public hearing will be granted, unless the District Engineer determines that the issues raised are insubstantial or there is otherwise no valid interest to be served by a hearing. The Corps of Engineers, Wilmington District will receive written comments pertinent to the proposed work, as outlined above, until 5pm, July 5, 2018. Comments should be submitted to Mr. David M. Lekson, Washington Regulatory Field Office, 2407 West Fifth Street, Washington, North Carolina 27889, or at (910) 251-4558.