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Published: 12/8/2006

Commission OKs plan for fuel facility

Plans for an alternative fuels plant in East Toledo moved forward yesterday with the Toledo Plan Commission's approval of a site plan.

American Biodiesel LLC plans a facility that would refine soybean oil for use as diesel fuel, employing up to 25 people at 1820 Front St. near I-280.

The facility would be built on the site of what is now a warehouse at Delta Fuels Inc., a diesel fuel blender and distributor.

The proposal drew opposition from some Birmingham neighborhood representatives, including the owners of Tony Packo's restaurant at Front and Consaul streets, who said they fear the plant will emit odors that will drive down property values.

William White, vice president and chief operating officer of the company, denied there would be any odors. He said the only smell associated with biodiesel is a faint sweet odor from the exhaust of vehicles that use the fuel.

Casey Stephens, the city's commissioner of environmental services, said he believes there will be no noticeable odor, and he said the plant's operations do not require an air-pollution permit from the state.

Neighbors noted American Biodiesel's business relationship with Delta Fuels, which was responsible for a 103,000-gallon diesel fuel spill in November, 2005.

Mr. White said Delta Fuels is a small investor in American Biodiesel and that American Biodiesel would sell its product to Delta Fuels for blending to take place.

Mr. Stephens said Delta is separate from American Biodiesel but said he is not satisfied with American Biodiesel's handling of the cleanup.

He said the cleanup is now under the control of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the company has been ordered to install a liner in its retention basin, which it is doing.

He said the plant can't resume operations until the EPA gives its approval.

Officials said 80,000 gallons of fuel leaked through the retention pond and could not be accounted for.

One speaker said the neighborhood smelled like diesel fuel for two months.

The spill was blamed on an operator who pumped fuel into a storage tank that overflowed. Earlier this year, Delta filed suit in Lucas County Common Pleas Court against firms working on the nearby Veterans Glass City Skyway for allegedly damaging its containment system.

"We're very disappointed," Robin Horvath, chief operating officer of Packo's, said of the commission's decision.

The plan commission also denied applications by Starbucks coffee shop and Chipotle Mexican Grill at Westgate Village Shopping Center for signs facing Secor Road. The businesses, the rears of which face Secor, are allowed only two exterior signs under the city's sign code.

An application for a halfway house for up to 53 released prison inmates at 842 West Central Ave. was withdrawn by the applicant after commissioners said the residential location was inappropriate.

Some residents of the nearby Old West End also objected to the facility, which they said would be too close to a newly built Glenwood Elementary School.

The commission approved a major site plan review for the proposed Ironhead Marine steel fabrication facility at 2245-47 Front St.

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