Florida's HB1C Impact on Belvedere Terminals Fuel Farm

Photo by International Environmental Justice Advocate Stel Bailey

Volusia County, Florida — In a momentous legislative development, the future of Volusia County takes on a new trajectory as the Florida Senate unanimously adopts HB1C. This pivotal change in legislation promises to have a profound impact on the proposed Belvedere fuel farm project in Volusia County.

Today, at 9:47 a.m., HB1C was substituted for SB2C, and unanimously adopted by the Senate. Now, it’s journey through the legislative process is under scrutiny. However, the most notable aspect of this transformation is the extension of restrictions related to land use originally imposed by SB 250, until October 2024, and the specific exclusion of Volusia County.

The nearing end of SB 250 had raised hopes among those dedicated to safeguarding the county's environment and safety. The possibility of these restrictions disappearing removes a substantial obstacle that Volusia County faced in establishing land use regulations and restrictions at 874 Hull Rd in Ormond Beach, Florida. By eliminating the restrictions of former SB 250, Volusia County regains crucial control over its land development codes, particularly in the vicinity of Hull Rd.

The exclusion of Volusia County from the new bill represents a lifeline for responsible development within the county. The bill in question, which has drawn concerns, is perceived as detrimental as it undermines the principle of home rule. By safeguarding Volusia County from its effects, there's a stronger foundation for preserving local decision-making and ensuring responsible development practices within Volusia County.

The extension of these restrictions also profoundly impacts the fate of the proposed Belvedere fuel farm project. With Volusia County now retaining control over land development codes, there is an opportunity to create more restrictive regulations, particularly for the contentious 874 Hull Road location in Ormond Beach, Florida. The remaining issue centers on the potential for the Florida East Coast Railway to file a suit under the Bert Harris Act as the legal property owner for diminution of value. This legal consideration highlights the complex terrain that the project's future must navigate, even as the county takes decisive steps to protect its environment and residents.

As we await the signature of HB1C by Governor Ron DeSantis at any moment, Volusia County looks forward to a future that considers the well-being of its residents, the protection of its environment, and the responsible management of proposed projects. The appreciation conveyed by numerous individuals for the exclusion of these restrictions in Volusia County highlights the significant importance attached to these essential freedoms within the community.

Volusia County residents are eagerly awaiting swift action by the Volusia County Council. They hope to see the council proactively establish restrictions against the Belvedere Terminals fuel farm project within their land development codes. The community's collective concern for environmental safety and responsible development fuels their anticipation of these critical measures.

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