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Final Notice and Public Explanation of a Proposed Activity in a 100-Year Floodplain- Lease of Office and Related Space and Installation of an Electronic Security System in Forty-Fort, PA

To: All interested floodplain residents of Forty-Fort, residents of Luzerne County, elected officials, agencies, groups, and individuals:

This is to give notice that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) – Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), as guided by Executive Order 13690 Establishing a Federal Flood Risk Management Standard (FFRMS) and a Process for Further Soliciting and Considering Stakeholder Input and Executive Order 11988, Floodplain Management, as amended, has conducted an evaluation to determine the potential affect that its activity in the floodplain will have on the human environment. The proposed project is located at 1989 Wyoming Avenue, Forty-Fort, PA 18704.

Proposed Action

ICE is proposing to lease office space, complete interior construction, and install an electronic security system (ESS) at the existing building located at 1989 Wyoming Avenue, Forty-Fort, PA 18704. The property is located in a suburban area of Luzerne County, PA. The purpose of the project is to provide staff adequate office space that meets security requirements in support of the HSI mission in Pennsylvania. The proposed interior construction of the space would include constructing new walls to subdivide the space and create an office, storage room, and conference room. Additionally, office subdividing partitions will be installed, along with a new kitchenette. New carpeting, doors, windows, and light fixtures will also be installed. Finally, the leased space will be painted. The lease footprint in the building would be approximately 1,800 square feet. 

Utilizing the Climate Informed Science Approach (CISA) of the FFRMS, along with Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) floodplain maps and National Flood Hazard Layer Flood Insurance Rate maps, ICE identified that the Proposed Action would be located within the 100-year floodplain, within the AE zone (designated as a high-risk flood zone). The limit of disturbance for the Proposed Action in its entirety is limited to 1,800 square feet within the existing footprint of the building, all of which is located in the 100-year floodplain. The floodplain is already permanently impacted by the existing building and adjacent parking lot.

Lease execution, project construction, and installation of the ESS would occur within the existing facility and is not anticipated to impact site topography and floodwater conveyance and storage on the project site. No ground disturbing activities are anticipated; therefore, no grading would be required and erosion and sedimentation would not be anticipated. There were no wetlands identified within the vicinity and surrounding area of the project. ICE would obtain all applicable local, state, and federal permits as necessary.


The entirety of the property is within the AE flood zone, therefore there are no practical site alternatives that would be more suitable for execution of the lease, interior construction, and installation of the ESS, when regarding the 100-year floodplain. As stated previously, the Proposed Action (which is the Preferred Alternative) would not impact the floodplain. The Proposed Action is confined to previously disturbed area within the existing building, therefore flood risk to federal assets would be negligible. Under the No Action Alternative, the current land use within the area of the Proposed Action (an existing building) would continue, and no construction, lease execution, or ESS installation would occur. There would be no impacts to the floodplain or to the environment, however the purpose and need for the Proposed Action would not be satisfied. Therefore, ICE has eliminated the No Action Alternative from consideration. 

ICE has reevaluated the alternatives to building in the floodplain and has determined that it has no practicable alternative. Environmental files that document compliance with steps 3 through 6 of Executive Order 11988 are available for public inspection, review, and copying upon request at the email address delineated in the last paragraph of this notice for receipt of comments. ICE will comply with all state and local floodplain protection procedures, including consulting with the appropriate agencies prior to implementing the Proposed Action.

This activity will have no significant impact on the environment for the following reasons:

  • The Project area is located within a previously disturbed suburban area adjacent to existing homes. However, the Proposed Action would be contained within the footprint of an existing building. Implementation of the Proposed Action is not expected to result in substantial changes to the existing socioeconomic conditions (e.g., population, housing availability, or use of public services during operation) and would have no disproportionate adverse effects on nearby environmental justice communities.  
  • The Proposed Action does not include disturbance of potentially contaminated areas and is not likely to cause a release of chemicals to the environment. 
  • The Proposed Action will be located within an existing building that is already being used as office space. Wastewater for the existing building is collected by a distribution system consisting of underground pipes that direct the wastewater to a local wastewater facility. The Proposed Action is anticipated to have a utility demand rate similar to existing conditions. There is no information indicating that utility suppliers have been unable to meet the current demand. Long-term impacts regarding water usage would be negligible. 
  • Based on an Information Planning and Consultation (IPaC) Review of the Project area, ICE identified the endangered Indiana Bat and the Northern Long-eared Bat as potentially within the local area and in the vicinity of the Project area, along with the Tricolored Bat, the Green Floater Clam, and the Monarch Butterfly, which are proposed-endangered, proposed-threatened, and candidate species, respectively. However, as stated previously, the Proposed Action is located in a previously disturbed area within an existing building. Therefore, ICE has determined that the project would have no effect on any of these endangered, threatened, or candidate species. There are no critical habitats in the vicinity of the Project area. Additional consultation under Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is not required. 
  • No negative impacts to recreational or educational values of the floodplain are anticipated to occur due to the project’s location on government-owned land and the relatively small footprint of the Proposed Action.
  • ICE will obtain all necessary federal and state permits prior to commencement of project activities. 

There are three primary purposes for this notice. First, people who may be affected by activities in floodplains and those who have an interest in the protection of the natural environment should be given an opportunity to express their concerns and provide information about these areas. Second, an adequate public notice program can be an important public educational tool. The dissemination of information about floodplains can facilitate and enhance Federal efforts to reduce the risks associated with the occupancy and modification of these special areas. Third, as a matter of fairness, when the Federal government determines it will participate in actions taking place in floodplains, it must inform those who may be put at greater or continued risk.

Any individual, group, or agency wishing to comment on the project may do so via email at icesustainability@ice.dhs.gov. Comments must be received by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on or before February 5th, 2024. This notice is posted on the DHS NEPA website at https://www.dhs.gov/national-environmental-policy-act and will remain online through the duration of the comment period. 

Date: January 29, 2024

Last Updated: 01/29/2024
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