Grants planned for local brownfield cleanup program

Remediating City’s contaminated sites is a goal of PlaNYC 2030. In 2007, it was estimated that as many as 7,600 acres of land in the City may be contaminated. The State has administered a brownfield cleanup program since 1994, but many of the brownfields in the City plagued by light or moderate contamination do not qualify for the State’s program. PlaNYC 2030 proposed the creation of an office dedicated to promoting the cleanup and redevelopment of brownfields, including those that are not enrolled in the State program. To that end, in 2009, the City Council passed the New York City Brownfield and Community Revitalization Act creating the Mayor’s Office of Environmental Remediation.

The Mayor’s office has promulgated two sets of rules that became effective in May 2010. The first set of rules sets forth the requirements for the Local Brownfield Cleanup Program, which is modeled on the State program. Participating developers submit to governmental oversight and community participation during the remediation process. In exchange, a developer may receive a limited release of liability from the City upon completing the program. The rules emphasize community involvement and protection of the environment and public health.

The second set of rules creates a Brownfield Incentive Grant program, which will provide incentives for the cleanup and development of brownfields. Properties enrolled in the local clean-up program may apply for grants to help defray the cost of remediation or pay for environmental insurance. Standard cleanup grants for enrollees could reach $60,000 or $100,000, depending on the type of project. Brownfield properties not yet enrolled in the local cleanup program are eligible for pre-development grants of up to $10,000 and environmental investigation grants of up to $25,000. These grants would fund activities such as project feasibility studies and soil testing.

There are other grants available, such as technical assistance grants for non-profits, and matching funds for projects receiving Brownfield Opportunity Area grants from the State. An owner or developer may receive grants for up to two brownfield projects each year.

Mayor’s Office of Environmental Remediation, City Record, May 13, 2010, at 1189; City Record,May 20, 2010, at 1257.

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