My View: Mayoral candidate Jason Leslie says fuel farm issue will carry past elections

Jason Leslie, a candidate for Ormond Beach mayor, writes that he was one of the first to propose relocation for the project.

  • By
  • | 2:00 p.m. June 26, 2024
  • Ormond Beach Observer
  • Opinion
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The big talk of the city of Ormond Beach in the news again is a proposed massive fuel tank storage facility. The governor signed a bill last week for a grant allowing up to 10 million dollars to help relocate the project. The current proposed location is on Hull Road, just over the unincorporated side of the city line. 

The big question is, "How did we get here and why weren’t any of the residents made aware of a proposed fuel terminal?" There has been a lot of finger pointing about improper public notices and the lack of communication. I first learned about the proposed terminal in August of 2023 at a town hall meeting by a resident that raised concerns about an air permit pulled on the property. I did some research immediately to investigate ownership and zoning information. I have a real estate license and understanding zone use is critical to the process of due diligence. The property is zoned for heavy industrial use which means the property owner is not required to submit an application for a zone change. The property was originally zoned for Agricultural use. There was apparently a concrete company that initiated to the zone change to operate and the project was scrapped when the recession hit in 2008. How did this property sit all these years still zoned as heavy industrial use? Why wasn’t the zone changed back to the original zone when the concrete plant decided to scrap plans?

I think one of the first mistakes was when the County Council in 2006 approved the zone change; it should have been contingent on the concrete plant opening in that location. Once the company abandoned plans, the property should have defaulted back to the original agricultural zone. This could have avoided a big mess and zone contingencies are not uncommon.

I was the first person in the county to speak on record about relocating the fuel terminal at the county’s special meeting in August of 2023. At that time, some residents were confused as to why I said we need to relocate this project. This is because based on my experience in real estate, and understanding land use code, the property owner is entitled to land rights. I even made numerous phone calls to our state representatives and took my concerns to Tallahassee during the last legislative session. Our state representatives said they would work on a solution to this unfortunate situation. Grant money is now available for the relocation initiative with the help of our state representatives. All we can do now is hope that Belvedere will consider a different location. 

This project is a part of my platform as an active candidate for mayor of Ormond Beach. Even though this property does sit on the unincorporated side of the county, this is still an issue for the people in the city limits of Ormond Beach. I will never shift responsibility by directing residents to the county, especially when it impacts our community! This project is expected to carry on past the November election and hopefully the people of Ormond Beach choose me to represent them in this complex situation.

Jason Leslie is a candidate running for Ormond Beach mayor. He has been a businessman for 20 years. 


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