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How can EPA better leverage the Partnership for Sustainable Communities with HUD, DOT, EDA and other federal agencies to bring implementation resources to projects?

2011 December 19

EPA’s Brownfield Program continues to look to the future by expanding the types of properties it addresses, forming new partnerships, and undertaking new initiatives to help revitalize communities across the nation. Under the Partnership for Sustainable Communities, EPA is working with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to help improve access to affordable housing, more transportation options, and lower transportation costs while protecting the environment in communities nationwide.

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2 Responses leave one →
  1. Trey Hess of MS Dept. of Environmental Quality permalink
    December 21, 2011

    It is HUD policy, in dealing with 24 CFR 58.5(i), that “(1)… all property proposed for use in HUD programs be free of hazardous materials, contamination, toxic chemicals and gasses, and radioactive substances, where a hazard could affect the health and safety of occupants or conflict with the intended utilization of the property. (2) HUD environmental review of multifamily and non-residential properties shall include evaluation of previous uses of the site and other evidence of contamination on or near the site, to assure that occupants of proposed sites are not adversely affected by the hazards…”

    Currently (it is my understanding and I may be wrong) HUD requires a Phase I ESA for “sites known or suspected to be contaminated by toxic chemicals or radioactive materials include but are not limited to sites: (i) listed on an EPA Superfund National Priorities or CERCLA List, or equivalent State list; (ii) located within 3,000 feet of a toxic or solid waste landfill site; or (iii) with an underground storage tank.”

    Seems to me that there’s an opportunity for communities to expand the traditional scope of the 104(k) Assessment Grants to conduct Phase I and Phase II ESAs on HUD, USDA and EDA projects. From my experience, “Responsible Entities” using Federal HUD, USDA and EDA dollars have steered clear of sites that fail the three criteria above. This, in turn, translates into sprawl and bigger challenges with redeveloping brownfields. Most sites on the “equivalent State List” have manageable levels of contaminants that could be redeveloped but Responsible Entities steer clear because of the perceived and (in some cases) real hurdles compared to a clean piece of property. Like chlorinated solvents, Responsible Entities choose the path of least resistance when it comes to economic development.

    EPA and its federal partners should consider identifying SPECIFIC Programs/requirements/tasks (like the HUD instance mentioned above) and then educating the HUD/USDA/EDA stakeholders of these potential opportunities.

  2. John Schweizer permalink
    September 29, 2012

    The following article was obtained from:
    http://www.aktpeerless.com/blog/fighting-downtown-blight-with-economic-incentives/?goback=%2Egde_1022467_member_169534552

    It provides a very interesting approach to financing cleanup of contaminated properties, which may be of interest to OSWER.

    “Vibrant downtown areas are a critical component of our local economies. Faced with a growing number of vacant properties in these key commercial districts, Michigan’s city, township, and county officials are leveraging powerful economic incentives to fight downtown blight in their communities.

    After assuming ownership of a vacant building in a prime downtown location, the City of Saginaw recently elected to redevelop the 60,000 square foot property. Unfortunately, the former retail space contained dangerous building materials such as PCBs, lead, and asbestos. The presence of these materials increased the cost of demolition considerably.

    With limited time and resources available, the city of Saginaw explored additional financing methods. Due to our extensive redevelopment experience, AKT Peerless was retained to help secure funding and provide environmental and economic development consulting services.

    To help fund this project, we leveraged Tax Increment Financing (TIF) incentives, a method by which the future increases in property tax revenues are used to finance project activities. TIF is a powerful financing tool that local communities can use to boost economic development without experiencing a loss to any taxing jurisdiction.

    By employing the TIF incentives offered by the Downtown Development Authority and the Brownfield Redevelopment Authority, we were able to secure over $850k for Saginaw’s redevelopment project. This is just one example of how Michigan’s local governments are leveraging economic incentives to revitalize their community infrastructure.”

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