New York searches for best brownfield sites

New York City is to launch a pilot Brownfields programme designed to get around existing laws that discourage companies from using such contaminated sites.


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Under the US Government’s Environmental Conservation Law, liability for environmental contamination and responsibility for environmental clean-up extend to all owners of the site, past and present. As a result, prospective developers avoid sites with environmental uncertainties, even if those sites would otherwise be suitable for reuse (see related story).

The programme, Rebuild Now-NY, is modelled on the Build Now-NY initiative which is developing a list of commercial and industrial sites to avoid permitting obstacles and to speed up the construction process for companies locating or expanding in New York State.

Rebuild Now-NY will identify and develop remediation plans for up to five sites. Locations eligible for consideration under the programme will be required to have at least 25 acres (10 ha) of land, or 15 acres (6 ha) in certain densely populated areas, with access to transportation, skilled labour and municipal water and sewer systems. Locations should also be suitable for redevelopment as business/commerce parks or industrial/distribution facilities.

Communities or industrial development agencies may submit sites for consideration if the property is either owned by the applicant or by a co-operative landowner.

The project will be administered by Empire State Development (ESD), New York State’s economic development organisation in conjunction with the State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the Governor’s Office of Regulatory Reform.

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