VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. — The Volusia County Planning and Land Development Regulation Commission approved a nine-month moratorium on I-2 Heavy Industrial development in a meeting Thursday morning.   

What You Need To Know

  • In November, the Volusia County Council passed a motion to impose a nine-month moratorium on the development of properties zoned I-2 Heavy Industrial

  • In order for the moratorium to go into effect, it had to be reviewed by the Planning and Land Development Regulation Commission

  • The moratorium would affect a site near Ormond Beach, where Belvedere Terminals plans to construct a fuel terminal

  • Dozens of residents spoke in favor of the moratorium and brought up concerns of a fuel terminal being developed in the area

  • An attorney representing Belvedere Terminals spoke in opposition of the moratorium

On Nov. 21, the Volusia County Council unanimously passed a motion to impose a nine-month moratorium on site development applications for properties zoned I-2 Heavy Industrial. County officials said the motion “stops the processing of site plan applications in unincorporated I-2 zoned areas, preventing the submission of a development application for properties zoned as I-2.” 

In order for the moratorium to go into effect, it had to be reviewed by the Planning and Land Development Regulation Commission. On Thursday, the Commission unanimously approved the nine-month moratorium.

The county said the moratorium “will provide time for county staff to review the list of permitted and special exception uses and develop administrative amendments to those uses.” At the end of the moratorium, county staff will be able to propose changes to the I-2 category and present those recommendations to the County Council. 

The moratorium is a continuation of the county’s fight against a proposed fuel terminal in unincorporated Volusia County land near Ormond Beach. In August, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection issued an air construction permit to Belvedere Terminals to construct a 20.4 million-gallon fuel terminal at 874 Hull Ave., near Ormond Beach. The site is currently zoned I-2 Heavy Industrial.

Since August, hundreds of residents have attended both city and county meetings to raise environmental, safety, and health concerns about the fuel terminal — citing its proximity to residential areas, the Ormond Beach Municipal Airport and the Ormond Beach Sports Complex. 

At Thursday’s meeting, close to two dozen residents spoke in favor of the moratorium during public comment. One speaker, Robin Magleora, founded a 3,400 member Facebook group to bring residents opposing the fuel terminal together. 

“For four months, we have attended county and city meetings to contest the build of Belvedere,” Magleora said. “We’ve written emails, we have yard signs in our yards, we have bumper stickers on our vehicles.”

Magleora asked the Commission to approve the moratorium. She said that thousands of residents live within a 1.5-mile radius of the proposed fuel terminal location. 

“Twenty years ago, Hull Road was an area that could accommodate heavy industrial,” Magleora said. “It’s not today. Less than one mile from 874, Hull Road is our municipal airport, sports complex, and Bear Creek — a 55+ community.” 

Speaking in opposition of the moratorium was a GrayRobinson attorney representing Belvedere Terminals. He said the moratorium was specifically designed to single out Belvedere’s fuel terminal project.

“Belvedere property is the only property with I-2 zoning that has not been developed,” the attorney said. “This moratorium is strictly and solely targeting Belvedere.”

Earlier in the meeting, Commission members said they were reviewing the moratorium request as being consistent with the process defined in The Volusia County Comprehensive Plan, not making any determinations about specific properties or uses. 

Growth and Resource Management Director Clay Ervin said that the Commission’s vote Thursday would determine if county staff had the authority to go forward to review the list of permitted and special exception uses for I-2 Heavy Industrial zoning. 

“It is not addressing a particular application or issue at this point,” Ervin said.

During public comment, the attorney representing Belvedere said the I-2 zoning allows the development of a fuel terminal and that the current zoning category had been in place since 2006. 

“The county making the rules and then refusing to live by them, instead choosing to enact an 11th-hour moratorium to stop a single project is absolutely not going to pass judicial scrutiny,” the attorney said.

Earlier this month, Belvedere Terminals submitted a site application plan for the fuel terminal proposed at 874 Hull Ave. However, county officials said they had not reviewed the application due to the moratorium. 

In a statement made to Spectrum News 13, Belvedere Terminals COO Mike Benedetto said: “On December 4, we submitted a site plan application to Volusia County for our original site, which adhered to the existing zoning in place for that site. We also continue to be in communication with the County about possible alternative locations, although the alternatives considered to date are missing elements needed for this project.” 

At the end of public comment, Commission member Edith Shelley made a motion to approve the nine-month moratorium, which unanimously carried.

Now that the moratorium has been approved by the Planning and Land Development Regulation Commission, the next step is for the Volusia County Council to officially adopt the moratorium at the next council meeting on Jan. 16. 

If adopted, the effective date of the moratorium would be Nov. 21, 2023. It would run for nine months and end on August 21, 2024.

The county said there is also “an option to extend that deadline for a period of three additional months if additional analysis is needed to facilitate the amendments.”

The January meeting will be held at 4 p.m. in the County Council Chambers at the Thomas C. Kelly Administration Center at 123 W. Indiana Ave., in DeLand. 

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.