Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos' space venture plans to fill in more than 10 acres of wetlands for a rocket manufacturing testing facility south of the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex and west of Space Commerce Way.
Blue Origin Florida LLC has applied for a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to place fill in 10.32 acres of wetlands, with "secondary impacts" to 7.45 acres of wetlands to build the facility, according to the permit public notice. The public has until Oct. 13 to comment on the permit application.
Blue Origin plans to build 270- and 313-foot variants of New Glenn rockets at KSC, which will launch no sooner than 2021.
The proposed 11.5-acre Tank Cleaning and Test facility No. 2 (2CAT) project would affect wetlands and surface waters located within the Indian River Lagoon watershed, the notice says.
Wetlands on the 139-acre Blue Origin Manufacturing North Campus subject parcel included "herbaceous and forested wetlands," according to the notice. But the land was converted to citrus grove in the 1940s with ditches that partially drained the wetlands.
Construction of Orbital Launch Site Manufacturing North Campus and Blue Origin’s Launch Complex 36 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station resulted in wetland impacts that the company mitigated by building a 54-acre wetland mitigation area in the southern third of the 139-acre parcel containing the north campus development. The wetland mitigation area consisted of wetland enhancement and wetland creation.
The proposed 2CAT project is located within the western portion of this mitigation area, the public notice says.
Blue Origin proposes to use mitigation credits provided by Neoverde mitigation bank in Volusia County to offset the wetlands loss, the public notice says.
The Corps of Engineers bases its decision on whether to issue or deny a permit on the information received from the public and the evaluation of the "probable impact" to wetlands. "This is based on an analysis of the applicant's avoidance and minimization efforts for the project, as well as the compensatory mitigation proposed," the public notice says.
The Corps says the proposed project “may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect” the eastern indigo snake, and “not likely to adversely affect” the wood stork and won't affect Atlantic salt marsh snakes, Florida scrub-jays, manatees and piping plovers.
To comment on the permit application Submit in writing to the attention of the District Engineer through the Cocoa Permits Section, 400 High Point Drive, Cocoa, Florida 32926 within 21 days from the date of this notice (by Oct. 13).
Questions about the application should be directed to the project manager, John Baehre, in writing at the Cocoa Permits Section, 400 High Point Drive, Cocoa, Florida 32926, by electronic mail at John.M.Baehre@usace.army.mil or by telephone at (321) 504-3771 ext. 13.