The engineering phase of the project is ongoing. Engineering, plan refinement, and permitting must be completed prior to breaking ground. The preliminary design and associated surveys have been completed by Engineering Design Construction Inc. (EDC), and the Planned Unit Development (PUD) document was updated by our attorney, so the full package was ready, and submitted to the county. The county returned their review of our package for completeness on April 16 2019 with two minor requests for additional information. Updates were made accordingly, and the final package was submitted on April 23, commencing the initial 60-day review and comment cycle. Also, on April 24, 2019 the perimitting package was submitted to South Martin Regional Utilities (SMRU) for their review. Comments recently received from SMRU are being addressed, and comments from Martin County were received in mid-June. Additionallly a pre-submittal review was requested from the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD), and the review meeting was held on June 25 to hear their concerns and ways to address them.
The initial review comments from Martin County and the pre-submittal reveiw comments from the state have been favorable for the mechanical aspects of the project, but have expressed concerns for potential environmental impacts to seagrasses and the mangrove preserve. These initial comments are being addressed in addition to later comments presented by SFWMD in August 2019. Resultant meetings and site visits with SFWMD occurred in September, October, and December 2019. Various sea greass mitigation initiative discussions are ongoing with SFWMD. It will be May or June 2020 before SFWMD can approve the proposed mitigations.
In addition to the seagrass mitigation process, permitting for the boardwalk is ongoing. At the request of the SFWMD, on February 27 2020 an arborist from EDC scouted the proposed area for Jupiter Narrows boardwalk to locate the mosquito ditch, and flagged the proposed boardwalk pathway. The proposed path was followed, flagged, and marked. A clear mosquito ditch is present between a portion of the flags but it could not be found in other areas of the mangroves. This is because the mosquito ditch only extends partway into the mangrove area, hence the proposed shortest distance diagonal route from the easement entrance to the beginning of the ditch.
SFWMD completed their initial site visit to the mangroves on April 17 2020. SFWMD personnel completed their follow-on visit on Wednesday, April 22 2020, and have developed their preliminary Uniform Mitigation Analysis Method (UMAM) analyses. Because the entrance area, the full mangrove area, and the mosquito ditch area vary so much a UMAM is required for each of the three areas. The UNAMS were completed and EDC completed their estimates for the seagrass and mangrove mitigations required for permitting. The remainder of May 2020 was taken to develop the preliminary mitigation plan for the mangroves.
EDC submitted their preliminary mangrove mitigation plan to SFWMD, and a site visit was conducted at the North end of the Jupiter Narrows mangrove area to evaluate potential locations for planting new mangroves required as mitigations for damage to existing mangroves resulting from boardwalk construction. SFWMD will now complete their analysis to determine the final mitigation requirement score to be met. With the final score in hand EDC will go back on site to identify and measure specific areas for removing invasive plants and for planting new mangroves. Additional reviews will then be held in order to reach a final agreement for a permit-able mitigation plan including the five year monitoring program.
SFWMD is awaiting the preliminary seagrass mitigation plan from EDC. A similar process to the mangrove process of site visits and iterative meetings will follow. It is difficult to estimate when the final agreements will be reached. Discussions with Martin County are ongoing in parallel, but submittal of the packages for final permitting will not go to Martin County or the Army Corps Of Engineers until agreement has been reached with SFWMD.
The federal process commenced on August 12, 2019 with a pre-submission meeting with the Army Corps of Engineers. No new concerns were raised at that meeting, so completing the submission packages for the county and state is ongoing with submission scheduled for mid 2020. The approval processes are estimated to be completed in late 2020. A schedule of estimated construction milestones will be provided when pernitting is completed.