Green Innovations

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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

DEC proposes new policies to streamline brownfield cleanup

The NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has just proposed two new policies to speed up the time it takes for abandoned, contaminated industrial parcels known as brownfields to go from community blight to community asset. The proposals will streamline the process by allowing certain properties to pre-qualify for inclusion in the state's Brownfield Cleanup Program (BCP) and by shortening the time frame from application approval to execution of a cleanup agreement with the state. As a result, communities will know sooner about the potential to remediate and market properties for reuse and redevelopment.

The BCP offers tax credits and limited liability releases to private parties who redevelop sites. The Brownfield Opportunity Area (BOA) program reimburses municipalities and community-based organizations up to 90 percent of the costs of implementing area-wide planning around brownfield redevelopment.

For many BOA communities, a lack of certainty about whether specific sites could qualify for state incentives at times hampered their ability to market the area's potential to developers.  Under this new proposal, a municipality or community organization may ask DEC for a "pre-determination" on whether property within a BOA study area is eligible for the Brownfield Cleanup Program. Even if a parcel is deemed eligible, it would still have to be formally accepted into the program. But, the pre-determination will speed the application process and give predictability to private developers that might be interested in investing.

In addition, DEC is proposing new procedures that will shorten the time frame for executing brownfield cleanup agreements. Currently, the time from DEC's receipt of a complete BCP application until the execution of a legal cleanup agreement has ranged from several weeks to many months. By expediting the review process and format, DEC expects to be able to send applicants a cleanup agreement in about 45 days.

Both draft policies are available at the DEC website. Public comments on the proposals will be accepted until Dec. 4, 2009.

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