In June, 2015 the Central New Hampshire Regional Planning Commission was awarded $400,000 to assess and conduct reuse planning for brownfield sites in the region. A total of $200,000 was available for sites with suspected petroleum contamination and $200,000 was available for sites suspected of other hazardous material contamination. The program has been highly successful to date and much of the funds have been spent. By June of 2017 CNHRPC was awarded another three-year $300,000 ($200,000 for hazardous materials and $100,000 for petroleum sites) from EPA to continue the work. We hope to continue to not only finish work on existing sites but add new sites to the program too!
Feedback and involvement from the local community will make this process succeed. A Brownfields Advisory Committee (BAC), made up of local residents and stakeholders will select consultants as well as projects. Project selection will be based on pre-identified selection criteria developed by the BAC. Site identification will come from many sources: citizens, town officials, and local organizations. Public meetings will be held during the reuse and cleanup planning phases. Our goal is to maximize citizen participation and feedback to ensure that this project not only succeeds, but succeeds in representing the will of Central New Hampshire’s residents.
- Matt Monahan, Senior Planner (603)226-6020; firstname.lastname@example.org
- Mike Tardiff, Executive Director: (603)226-6020; email@example.com
What is a brownfield?
“A brownfield is defined as: real property, the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant. The 2002 Brownfields Law further defines the term to include a site that is: contaminated by a controlled substance; contaminated by petroleum or a petroleum product excluded from the definition of ‘hazardous substance,’ or mine-scarred land.”
- United States Environmental Protection Agency definition
In short, a brownfield is a site that remains undeveloped because it is contaminated (or thought to be contaminated). These properties not only are underdeveloped leading to under realized economic development, but also pose a threat to the health of those who live and work nearby.
Brownfields cleanup efforts begin with assessment of the property, followed by reuse planning efforts, cleanup efforts, and finally redevelopment. Each of these steps requires significant professional assistance from qualified consultants, as well as additional funding than may be required in traditional land use development or redevelopment. It is for these reasons that brownfield sites often remain in a fallow state for decades. CNHRPC hopes, that with this grant, we will be able to eliminate as many brownfield sites in the region as possible.
How do you determine if a site is a brownfield?
A site is classified as a brownfield by having an environmental assessment done on the property. The environmental assessment determines the extent of real or perceived contamination. Sites listed on the National Priorities List (i.e. Superfund sites) are not considered to be brownfields.
What can the property be reused for?
Brownfields properties are commonly redeveloped for housing, commercial or office space, recreation, “greenspace,” or governmental uses. Depending on the contaminants found a t the site, the property may be subject to institutional controls such as activity and use restrictions (AURs) or groundwater management permits (GMPs). For more information on institutional controls, see the NHDES Brownfields website.
What are the benefits of brownfield redevelopment for the community?
- Avoiding potential environmental enforcement actions;
- Tax benefits for cleaning up and reusing the property;
- Reducing the likelihood that contamination will migrate off site or into groundwater and eliminating additional cleanup costs;
- Creating good will within the community;
- Making the property more valuable and marketable; and
- Legacy factor-not passing a burden on to heirs.
The CNHRPC Brownfields Program, utilizing the $400,000 grant from the United States Environmental Protection Agency, will assess properties and engage in reuse planning. Projects will be identified for Phase I Assessment (historical research of a property to identify potential contaminants) and Phase II Assessment (soil and other scientific analysis). Once the assessment process has concluded, cleanup and reuse planning (often called Phase III Assessment) will be completed.
Feedback and involvement from the local community will make this process succeed. A Brownfields Advisory Committee (BAC), made up of local residents and stakeholders will select consultants as well as projects. Project selection will be based upon pre-identified selection criteria developed by the BAC. Site identification will come from many sources: citizens, town officials, and local organizations. Public meetings will be held during the reuse and cleanup planning phases. Our goal is to maximize citizen participation and feedback to ensure that this project not only succeeds, but succeeds in representing the will of Central New Hampshire’s residents.
Moving forward, there will be opportunity for these sites to obtain funds for cleanup from several sources at EPA but also at the state level. A link to the EPA Brownfields Program can be found here: http://www.epa.gov/brownfields/ and a link to the NHDES Brownfields Program can be found here: http://des.nh.gov/organization/divisions/waste/hwrb/sss/brownfields/
What are the benefits of brownfield redevelopment to the community?
Depending upon the site, potential benefits to the community include:
- Removing health and environmental concerns or perceptions;
- Promoting use of existing infrastructure and reducing sprawl (reuse of existing available properties vs. new land);
- Reducing vehicle miles traveled (due to higher location efficiency);
- Promoting economic growth (increasing tax base and creating jobs);
- Removing blighted property;
- Increasing property values of nearby properties;
- Building ties among residents, businesses, and all parties involved;
- Building community awareness and empowering communities to address a problem that directly affects them;
- Assistance with implementing the town Master Plan; and
- Reducing crime in revitalized areas.