US Army Corps
Issue Date: December 18, 2018
Comment Deadline: January 17, 2019
Corps Action ID Number: SAW-2015-01268
The Wilmington District, Corps of Engineers (Corps) received an application from the Greensboro-Randolph Megasite Foundation, Inc. seeking Department of the Army authorization to discharge dredged or fill material into waters of the United States, associated with the construction of the Greensboro-Randolph Megasite (GRMS), an approximate 1,000 acre advanced automotive manufacturing facility. The proposed project includes off-site transportation and utility improvements. The proposed project site is located adjacent to US Highway 421 in Liberty, Randolph County, North Carolina.
Due to the large number of permit drawing plans associated with this proposal, they are not included with this Public Notice. This Public Notice is available on the Wilmington District Web site at http://www.saw.usace.army.mil/Missions/RegulatoryPermitProgram.aspx.
Applicant: Greensboro-Randolph Megasite Foundation, Inc.
Mr. Jim Melvin
324 W. Wendover Ave. Suite 207
Greensboro, North Carolina 27408
Ms. Vickie Miller
555 Fayetteville St, Suite 900
Raleigh, North Carolina 27601
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 Authorities:
Section 404 of the Clean Water Act (33 U.S.C. 1344)
Location Description: The project area is composed of the proposed GRMS, and the proposed utility and transportation improvement sites.
The GRMS is located in northern Randolph County approximately two miles northwest of the Town of Liberty and east of the Town of Julian. The site is generally bounded by Old US 421 to the north, Julian Airport Road to the west, Troy Smith Road to the east, and US Highway 421 to the south.
The proposed route for the water and sewer utilities would begin at the Bora Drive, Liberty Road intersection and follow Liberty Road southeast to the northern portion of the GRMS. At the intersection with Julian Airport Road, the water main continues along Old US 421 to the north of the site while the force main sewer alignment continues along Julian Airport Road. The force main alignment proceeds southeast along US 421 to the intersection with Starmount Road. The force main follows Starmount Road to a stream crossing where a proposed pump station would be located.
The proposed route for the electrical transmission line would extend from the existing Duke Energy corridor west of Hockett Road and north of the Hockett Road, Whitt Hunt Road intersection. It would cross Old Climax Road, Hunting Lodge Road, NC 22, Old Red Cross Road and Shiloah Road to the proposed site.
The proposed transportation improvements would be located along US 421 on, and adjacent to, the southwestern portion of the GRMS site. Specifically, the transportation improvements would include roadway widening and new interchanges. These improvements would be located immediately south of the Julian Airport Road, Crutchfield Farm Road intersection and extending southward to Shiloh Road, at the Browns Meadow Road, US 421 intersection and along the Shiloh Road, US 421 intersection, immediately south of Dodsons Lake.
Project Area (acres): 1,825
Nearest Town: Liberty
Nearest Waterways: Sandy Creek and Dodsons Lake
River Basin: Cape Fear 03030003 and 03030002
Latitude and Longitude: 35.894610N, -79.627378W
Existing Site Conditions
The project area is located in the Cape Fear watershed (HUCs 03030003 and 03030002) and includes perennial and intermittent streams, adjacent wetlands, open water ponds, and Dodsons Lake. Surface waters flow to six named waterbodies that occur within the project area. These waterbodies are: Little Polecat Creek, Sandy Creek, Dodsons Lake, North Prong Stinking Quarter Creek, Climax Creek, and Big Alamance Creek. North Prong Stinking Quarter Creek, Climax Creek, and Big Alamance Creek drain to the Haw River (HUC 03030002). Polecat Creek, Sandy Creek, and Dodsons Lake drain to the Deep River (HUC 03030003).
The project area contains approximately 46,866 feet of perennial streams and approximately 29,412 feet of intermittent streams. Substrate in these streams ranged from silt/sand to cobble/gravel and Ordinary High Water Mark (OHWM) indicators included natural lines impressed on the banks, shelving, matted down vegetation, disturbed leaf litter, sediment deposition, wrack lines, sediment sorting, and bank scour. Open water within the project area consists of ponds (totaling 34 acres) and Dodsons Lake (53 acres). All but two ponds within the project area are hydrologically connected by unnamed tributaries to named waterbodies.
Water Quality Classifications for the named tributaries are as follows:
Little Polecat Creek: WS-III; HQW
Sandy Creek: WS-III
Dodsons Lake: WS-III
North Prong Stinking Quarter Creek: WS-IV; NSW
Climax Creek: WS-IV; NSW
Big Alamance Creek: WS-IV; NSW
Water Quality Classification referenced above and pertinent to the waters listed above are defined as the following:
• Class C (C) refers to waters protected for uses such as secondary recreation,
fishing, wildlife, fish consumption, aquatic life including propagation, survival and maintenance of biological integrity, and agriculture. Secondary recreation includes wading, boating, and other uses involving human body contact with water where such activities take place in an infrequent, unorganized, or incidental manner;
• Water Supply III (WS-III) refers to waters used as sources of water supply for
drinking, culinary or food processing purposes where a more protective WS-I or WS-II
classification is not feasible. These waters are also protected for Class C uses. WS-III waters are typically in low to moderately developed watersheds;
• Water Supply IV (WS-IV) refers to waters used as sources of water supply for drinking,
culinary or food processing purposes where a WS-I, WS-II or WS-III classification is not feasible. These waters are also protected for Class C uses. WS-IV waters are generally in moderately to highly developed watersheds or Protected Areas;
• High Quality Waters (HQW) is a supplemental classification intended to protect waters which are rated excellent based on biological and physical/chemical characteristics through Division monitoring or special studies, primary nursery areas designated by the Marine Fisheries Commission, and other functional nursery areas designated by the Marine Fisheries Commission;
• Nutrient Sensitive Waters (NSW) is a supplemental classification intended for waters needing additional nutrient management due to being subject to excessive growth of microscopic or macroscopic vegetation;
The project area contains approximately 23.7 acres of wetlands. The North Carolina Wetland Assessment Method (NC WAM) and the North Carolina Stream Assessment Method (NC SAM) were used to assess the functions and values of a representative sampling of wetlands and streams throughout the project area. Common NC WAM wetland types within the project area include Riverine Swamp Forest, Non-Tidal Freshwater Marsh, Headwater Forest and Bottomland Hardwood Forest. The majority of streams were dry or had water only in pools during field assessments conducted between July 2017 and November 2017. However, most of the streams within the project area received a medium overall NC SAM rating. Wetlands within the project area are small (average wetland size is 0.3 acre). Most of these wetlands are headwater forests located adjacent to first order tributaries. Overall NC WAM ratings were medium for the majority of wetlands onsite.
Land use within the site and along the associated infrastructure improvements consists predominately of agricultural fields, residential property, and forested land.
Applicant’s Stated Purpose
The applicant's stated purpose is to establish a construction pad (with plans for buildings and parking lots) and utilities (electricity, water, sewer, roads, and rail) at a location that will attract the establishment of a transformational automotive manufacturing, production, and assembly facility that will generate employment and economic benefits for the Project Region. The applicant states that a transformational facility is one that is expected to provide: roughly 2,000-4,000 mostly skilled and semi-skilled manufacturing jobs; an increase in the local tax base; and new payroll to circulate within Randolph County and the City of Greensboro. To date, the applicant has not identified a tenant or user for the proposed site. Version 7.8.2014 Page 6
The overall project involves the construction of a ~1,000 acre development pad, with plans for the construction of buildings and parking lots. The overall project includes roadway interchanges, rail, water, sewer and powerline infrastructure. Implementation of the proposed project would result in direct impacts to streams, wetlands, and open water. The development pad would result in permanent impacts to 2,954 linear feet of intermittent stream, 34,342 linear feet of perennial stream, 8.85 acres of jurisdictional wetlands, and 22.60 acres of open water. The development pad would also result in temporary impacts to 478 linear feet of perennial stream. No buffer impacts would result from the pad because streams impacted by the pad are in the Deep River watershed and are not subject to Jordan Lake Buffer Rules. Transportation and utility improvements associated with the project would result in permanent impacts to an additional 0.75 acres of jurisdictional wetlands, 0.50 acres of open water, 1,400 linear feet of intermittent stream, and 3,740 linear feet of perennial stream. Transportation and utility improvements associated with the project would result in temporary impacts to an additional 165 linear feet of intermittent stream and 126 linear feet of perennial stream. Zone 1 and Zone 2 buffer impacts associated with offsite utilities are anticipated along streams subject to the Jordan Lake Buffer Rules; however, these impacts are anticipated to be exempt because buffer impacts are equal to or less than 40 linear feet with a proposed maintenance corridor equal to or less than 10 feet in width at jurisdictional crossings (See table below).
Avoidance and Minimization
The applicant provided the following information in support of efforts to avoid and/or minimize impacts to the aquatic environment: Several alternatives were evaluated during the design process in an effort to avoid and minimize impacts to jurisdictional resources within the site and along the proposed infrastructure extensions (see pages 100-120 of the attached plans). The developer has attempted to avoid and minimize impacts to water resources by designing perpendicular road and utility crossings, where feasible, and utilizing erosion control Best Management Practices (BMPs) to minimize impacts associated with offsite sedimentation.
The applicant offered the following compensatory mitigation plan to offset unavoidable functional loss to the aquatic environment: Mitigation for impacts to jurisdictional waters would be accomplished through payment to the North Carolina Division of Mitigation Services. The applicant has stated that total permanent impacts associated with the proposed project development (including utilities and transportation improvements) are anticipated to be mitigated at a ratio of less than 2:1. The applicant has expressed an interest in providing a portion of the compensatory mitigation through onsite preservation for areas where stream buffers may be retained or where the opportunity may exist to provide or enhance stream buffers in areas where they are lacking. No additional details were provided with the application or supplemental information.
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 effect 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-indentified 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. The Corps reviewed this project in accordance with (IAW) the NLEB Standard Local Operating Procedures for Endangered Species (SLOPES) between the USACE, Wilmington District, and the Asheville and Raleigh U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) Offices, and determined that the action area for this project is located outside of the highlighted areas/red 12-digit HUCs and activities in the action area do not require prohibited incidental take; as such, this project meets the criteria for the 4(d) rule and any associated take is exempted/excepted.
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 January 7, 2019 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):
Based upon all available information, the Corps determines that this application for a Department of Army (DA) permit does not involve an activity which would affect the coastal zone, which is defined by the Coastal Zone Management (CZM) Act (16 U.S.C. § 1453).
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 proposed activity.
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 shall 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, January 17, 2019. Comments should be submitted to Andrew Williams, Raleigh Regulatory Field Office, 3331 Heritage Trade Drive, Suite 105 , Wake Forest, North Carolina 27587, at (919) 554-4884 extension 26.