Friday, August 15, 2008

Cleaning up New York's Brownfield law

The idea behind state brownfield laws has always been to encourage the development of former industrial sites and other contaminated properties which otherwise would sit idle or abandoned.

Through state subsidies and tax credits, developers could clean up stagnant properties and return them to the local tax rolls as shopping centers, office complexes, sports facilities...you name it.

One of the major problems with New York State's brownfield law, according to Gibbons attorney Eileen D. Millett, was that "credits for cleanup and development had been lumped together, so a company that spent the bulk of its money on redevelopment rather than cleanup would still get a lucrative package," according to Gibbons attorney

"Companies thus had little incentive to go beyond minimum standards for cleanup. Indeed, the old program had not achieved the desired result in struggling areas, and had provided large windfalls to large projects that were not meeting the state’s goals of assuring environmental cleanup while spurring economic development," Millett writes in an alert to her firm's clients. (You can read it here.)

To fix this and other problems with the cleanup program, state lawmakers passed S-8717 prior to leaving Albany for their summer recess. The measure is designed to overhaul the cleanup program by tilting incentives more toward cleanup and less to redevelopment.

In signing the legislation, Governor Peterson said:

"The purpose of the brownfields law was to clean up the environment, not clean out the state treasury."

MORE:
New Law Turns Brown Into Green for New York State (NY Times)
Governor Paterson Signs Brownfields Reform Legislation (NYDEC)

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