ORMOND BEACH, Fla. — Hundreds of residents attended a special Volusia County Council meeting Wednesday night to speak in opposition to a proposed fuel terminal.

What You Need To Know

  • The Florida Department of Environmental Protection issued an air construction permit to Belvedere Terminals to construct a 20 million gallon tank farm in Ormond Beach

  • Nearly 40 residents spoke in opposition of the fuel terminal; hundreds attended the meeting and Bear Creek residents came in carloads and chartered a 56-person bus

  • The county’s legal department said the Volusia County Council is not able to appeal the construction permit

  • The County Council passed a motion to research other alternative sites for the fuel terminal and to hold meetings with state and federal officials

More than 400 people were in attendance as residents filled the Volusia County Council chambers, two overflow rooms and the building’s lobby. The special meeting was called so that the county council could discuss and gather more information about a proposed fuel terminal site in unincorporated county land in Ormond Beach. 

Earlier this month, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection issued Belvedere Terminals Company, LLC a final air construction permit. According to the permit, the Ormond Beach Terminal would contain 16 storage tanks, holding 20.4 million gallons of fuel. The site will be located at 874 Hull Road.

The terminal will be used to “load gasoline, diesel, ethanol, and biodiesel into trucks” and achieve a maximum truck loading of more than 350 million gallons of fuel per year. 

Company officials say they are also planning fuel terminal sites in Jacksonville and Ft. Pierce as part of a multi-site fuel distribution system. They said the system will “offer Floridians safer, lower cost and more reliable delivery of gasoline, diesel and jet fuel” and expected the terminal to be operational in 2025.

Residents expected to learn whether the Volusia County Council would appeal the site’s construction permit. However, the county’s legal department said the council is not able to appeal the permit “due to a lack of standing.” 

Senior Assistant County Attorney Paolo Soria said the county is not one of the identifying parties within the permit, and therefore, is not able to appeal the permit.

According to the state’s air construction permit administrative process, “Affected parties may petition for an administrative hearing within 14 days from the date of ‘actual notice’ or from publication of the Notice of Intent, whichever occurs first.”

Since county officials did not petition for a hearing, they are not considered “affected parties” who would be able to appeal the construction permit. At the meeting, county officials said they did not see the public notice about the fuel terminal published July 7, by the Hometown News Media Group. 

“I now have a problem with the notice,” Council Member Jake Johansson said at the meeting. “Because in my five years as a city manager, as much as I wanted to save money and use Hometown News to do our budget announcements and our land use announcements, I couldn’t do it on Hometown News because their circulation wasn’t enough.” 

Dozens of Ormond Beach residents at the meeting also said they did not see the public notice.

“We looked everywhere for the public notice and couldn’t find it,” Ormond Beach resident Elena Krafft said.

“We did not receive this paper in our neighborhood,” Ormond Beach resident Lindsey Pate said. “And we are less than a half a mile away from this site. How does this qualify as a public notice?”

County officials said they wanted to investigate the public notification process.

“How do we prevent this from happening again?” County Chair Jeff Brower said. “If we don’t have standing, if we haven’t challenged something, but we’re never given a notice that there’s something we may have to challenge, how does the government function?”

The council voted to have staff look into the air construction permit’s public notification process and for the legal department to look at case law for similar situations and how they were handled.

At the packed meeting, nearly 40 people spoke in opposition to the fuel terminal. Residents raised environmental, health, safety and security concerns.

“There are 5,000 residents within a two-mile radius literally in the crosshairs of this massive terminal,” Krafft said. “They will be subjected to the life-changing, adverse impacts of living right next to an industrial fuel farm.” 

Krafft started a petition earlier this week, titled “STOP the Belvedere Fuel Farm Project in Ormond Beach”. The petition has nearly 12,000 signatures as of Thursday morning.

Krafft and other speakers brought up the proposed site’s proximity to the Ormond Beach Municipal Airport, three residential communities, multiple business parks and the Ormond Beach Sports Complex.

“This location is wildly inappropriate for a fuel farm,” council member Troy Kent said. “I object to this project. I object to all permits for this project.”

Kent said the council should have a conversation with Belvedere Terminals to find an alternative site. 

“We need to bring them to the table and help them find a more suitable location because this isn’t the location,” Kent said. 

Council member Jake Johansson said he spoke with Belvedere Terminals COO Mike Benedetto on the phone prior to the meeting.

“He did tell me that he was not opposed to alternative plans,” Johansson said. 

Ultimately, the Volusia County Council unanimously passed a motion to accomplish four things:

  • Meet with state and federal officials and property owners to discuss the project

  • Have staff investigate the public notice process

  • Have the county legal department research case law on similar issues and how they were dealt with

  • Have staff research if there are any other lands that could be suitable fuel terminal sites instead of Hull Road

Ormond Beach resident Fran Canfield said the results of the meeting were positive. Canfield is the HOA president of Bear Creek Village — a 55+ community less than a mile away from the proposed fuel terminal site. Bear Creek residents attended the meeting in carloads and chartered a 56-person bus in the hopes that their voices would be heard.

“They did hear us,” Canfield said. “At first, there was skepticism, but by the time the meeting ended, they were all on board to do whatever they can in their power to help us.”

For more coverage about the proposed Ormond Beach fuel terminal, see our previous reporting about resident concerns and the Ormond Beach City Commission Meeting.

Reagan Ryan is a 2023 — 2024 Report for America Corps Member, covering the environment and climate across Central Florida for Spectrum News 13. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on under-covered issues.