Specialist Lawyers Say Bioethanol Proposal Violates City Code

By Mike Lednovich

Legal land use experts have issued their opinion that RYAM’s proposed bioethanol plant at its Fernandina Beach complex would be in violation of the city’s Comprehensive Plan and Land Development Code.

“In sum, it is our opinion that the proposed Bioethanol Plant is not an allowable use consistent with the City’s Comprehensive Plan and LDC. Both the Comprehensive Plan, in its Industrial future land use category, and the LDC, in the definitions applicable to the I-2 Heavy Industrial zoning, expressly prohibit the proposed use on the Property. Therefore, state law requires the City to reject the development and operation of this land use,” wrote attorneys James White and Susan Trevarthen of the firm Weiss Serota in a letter to City Attorney Tammi Bach.

The lawyers said the only avenue to permit a bioethanol plan would be “If the City wanted to consider allowing the proposed Bioethanol Plant, it would need to amend both the Comprehensive Plan and the LDC to allow for it, in a manner that preserves the internal consistency of the Comprehensive Plan as required by state law.”

Bach had requested the outside legal opinion on March 20.

“We’re relieved and thrilled that our comprehensive plan blocks the proposed ethanol plant, safeguarding our community’s future,” said Taina Christner of the group “No Bioethanol.”

Last November, Rayonier Advanced Materials had submitted an application to the state for a Bioethanol production plant that would be located at its current cellulose production complex.

According to the “air construction permit application” submitted to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection on Nov. 13, RYAM sought to operate the plant on its current site along with two shift process tanks, one off-spec tank, and one product storage tank that would have internal floating roofs. The application states the plant would produce 7.5 million gallons of bioethanol for sale each year. The product storage tank can hold 39,900 gallons.

Opposition to the bioethanol plant has been widespread not only in the city but on Amelia Island as well.

Sierra Club President Julie Ferreira said, “Citizens have worked hard on this issue. We felt like the City’s Comprehensive Plan was written in black and white with the express purpose to protect the safety and welfare of the community. Today is the day that was verified. The fight isn’t over however, now we have to elect the people who will withstand RYAM’s pressure to change the Comp Plan in the future. We must still remain vigilant.”

The law firm said one of the key factors in its determination was whether bioethanol was a chemical.

The attorneys wrote, “The processes involved in the proposed Bioethanol Plant are chemical manufacturing and refining. Therefore, the City’s Comprehensive Plan and LDC clearly and expressly prohibit its development and operation. State law requires the City to reject such a proposal and enforce its Comprehensive Plan and LDC.”

Fernandina Beach City Commissioner Darron Ayscue said at the commission’s May 7 meeting that if outside attorneys advise that the bioethanol plant violates city laws, the commission will not allow the proposal to go forward.

Commissioner Chip Ross said, “I’ve read the opinion, I agree with the opinion. And under the Land Development Code, the interim city manager makes the final determination, and I’ll be asking him for a written opinion on this matter shortly.”

No other commissioners chose to comment on the decision.

RYAM’s spokesman Ryan Houck said, “The City’s outside counsel prepared a thorough opinion. However, the opinion was based on limited information gleaned from the air permit application and draft air permit rather than any application submitted to the City.

“RYAM looks forward to engaging with the City at the appropriate time to provide additional information regarding the project to demonstrate that the project is an allowable use under the existing Comprehensive Plan and Land Development Code.”

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Ben Martin
Noble Member
Ben Martin(@ben-martin)
19 days ago

If everything that has a chemical formula is a chemical, then water is also a chemical.

Last edited 19 days ago by Ben Martin
Chris244
Noble Member
Chris244(@chris244)
19 days ago
Reply to  Ben Martin

I see your logic, but think it’s flawed. I think the key words are, “processing”, “manufacturing”, “production”. Not just the storage of a plastic toy LEGO. Big difference. There’s a reason communities all over the country apply nationally recognized zoning standards. Heavy Industry- refinery manufacturing does not belong next to a neighborhood. FB should be no different.

Ben Martin
Noble Member
Ben Martin(@ben-martin)
19 days ago
Reply to  Chris244

There is also a reason manufacturing has left the United States and transformed us into a service economy where the really good jobs are working at Burger King. Taxes and Environmental Regulations are 2 of the main reasons. 90% of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck. It used to be the the American dream was owning a house and having a family. Now people are lucky just not to be homeless. Unless of course you have some form of government employment.

Lyn Pannone
Noble Member
Lyn Pannone(@lyn-pannone)
19 days ago
Reply to  Ben Martin

Mr. Martin, the point is the location of the plant. A neighborhood on a barrier island is not an appropriate place.

Ben Martin
Noble Member
Ben Martin(@ben-martin)
19 days ago
Reply to  Lyn Pannone

But what if access to sea and rail transport is of economic importance? The more profitable the operation, the more they can afford to pay employees. In the private sector profitability is of extreme importance. On the other hand, career government employees never had to worry about if their organization was profitable. It is like they have unlimited taxpayer funds. And as far as safety to the wetlands go, with the right safeguards for what is probably a relatively small amount of noxious raw materials – the risks are minimized. Groundwater travels a couple of inches a year maybe. Any contamination of soil or groundwater can be remediated.

Mark Tomes
Active Member
Mark Tomes(@mtomes)
19 days ago
Reply to  Ben Martin

Where do these factless opinions come from? Government employees have to work within budgets, also, and they often are slashed as Republicans are in power. Ask any teacher, police officer, firefighter, city employee, county employee, environmental regulator, etc., etc., if they have endless money to work with, and they will laugh at you in your face.

Mark Tomes
Active Member
Mark Tomes(@mtomes)
19 days ago
Reply to  Ben Martin

The main reason the average U.S. worker is having financial difficulties is 50 years of trickle down economics and the relaxing of tax codes for wealthy people and corporations operating overseas. 80% of Trump’s tax cuts went to the top 1% of the wealthy class, with no consequent benefit to the rest of the country.

Ben Martin
Noble Member
Ben Martin(@ben-martin)
19 days ago
Reply to  Mark Tomes

Government waste is rampant. Here is a wasteful spending list. https://posey.house.gov/wasteful-spending/

Ben Martin
Noble Member
Ben Martin(@ben-martin)
19 days ago
Reply to  Ben Martin

Here is a joke:

There are 2 engineers and a Civil Service employee sitting around a campfire and they all have their dogs with them.

One engineer says “My dog is really smart.” He tells his dog to add 2 +2. His dog gets 4 cookies and puts them in the cookie jar.

The other engineer says “My dog is smarter.” He tells his dog to multiply 4 and 4. His dog gets 16 cookies and puts them in the cookie jar.

The Civil Service guy looks at his dog as says “Do your thing.” His dog screws the other 2 dogs, eats all the cookies, and goes home on sick leave.

Last edited 19 days ago by Ben Martin
Ben Martin
Noble Member
Ben Martin(@ben-martin)
19 days ago
Reply to  Mark Tomes

Mark, what you may be missing is that inflation is a Federal Government Tax. It hurts people with cash savings. And it really hurts people who own no real property. It is said that the vast majority of government expenses is paid not from income taxes collected, but from T-Bills that are sold. When the Federal Reserve buys those debt instruments they create money out of nothing and inflate the money supply.

An unconstitutional banking system and fiat currency is what makes the Federal Government like a teenager with a credit card.

What we should all worry about is a central banking system that aspires to own all the real property in the world. After the 2008 financial crisis Wells Fargo became one of the largest landlords in the nation. We all deserve an honest banking system.

http://www.BootTheBankers.com

Last edited 19 days ago by Ben Martin
Mark Tomes
Active Member
Mark Tomes(@mtomes)
19 days ago
Reply to  Ben Martin

There is a plethora of research showing 70 – 80% of inflation is caused by corporate greed; they raise prices because they can, not because of labor cost increases or supply shortages or any legitimate reason.

Ben Martin
Noble Member
Ben Martin(@ben-martin)
19 days ago
Reply to  Mark Tomes

Corporate greed is Pfizer taking the CDC captive (along with much of the rest of DC) and using government to require highly questionable synthetic material injections, shutting everything down, and destroying the livelihoods of millions. Psychological manipulation of the masses was part of the plan.

Corporate Greed is Wells Fargo creating over 1 million false accounts.

Corporate Greed is Hospitals getting $39K for every death labeled as covID.

Corporate Greed can and does exist – and it happens because much of Tallahassee and DC have been corrupted through the campaign contribution process apparently. But I believe you are mistaken about corporate greed being the cause of inflation. The cause of inflation is inflation of the money supply.

Last edited 19 days ago by Ben Martin
Hunter Walker
Trusted Member
Hunter Walker(@hwalker00)
18 days ago
Reply to  Mark Tomes

Where do these factless opinions come from?

Douglas M
Noble Member
Douglas M(@douglasm)
19 days ago

The most important words in this article are from Julie:

….The fight isn’t over however, now we have to elect the people who will withstand RYAM’s pressure to change the Comp Plan in the future. We must still remain vigilant.”

Yep…..don’t rest easy yet folks. November elections will be a big deal….

Paula M
Noble Member
Paula M(@paula-m)
19 days ago

Good news…so far

mmonzon
mmonzon(@mmonzon)
19 days ago

I would like to invite those who support building a bioethanol plant in Fernandina Beach to a public town hall to be held at 6:00 pm on May 30 at the Peck Center. In that event. I will review relevant chemical processes at RYAM & Lignotech and explain why air emissions of toxic pollutants would increase (according to RYAM’s own data) with the proposed plant. I will also summarize the enormous risks that the community would be exposed to by producing a highly flammable material at a chemical site that already processes very large quantities of highly reactive hazardous materials. Attendant will get a change to ask questions. I believe that at the end, attendants will also conclude, based on facts, that this project would not be good for Fernandina Beach.

I have a graduate degree in chemistry and worked in large chemical manufacturing complexes. I was trained on assessing hazardous reactive chemicals, led a paper chemicals research group and was a general manager at International Paper.

Ben Martin
Noble Member
Ben Martin(@ben-martin)
19 days ago
Reply to  mmonzon

Unless you are a licensed engineer you are not legally qualified to prepare an Air Operating Permit Application.

Ben W. Martin, PE
Fl. Reg # 45310

Last edited 19 days ago by Ben Martin
MyFernandina
Trusted Member
MyFernandina(@myfernandina)
18 days ago

RYAM is not stupid—don’t you think they realized the conflict with the city Comp Plan?
They have lived and operated in FB for decades and clearly understand the politics and
restrictions within the city.
So what is their plan–they must have one.

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