Focuses on Public Question No. 2 on November 4 ballot to revitalize towns while
“From McMansions to shopping malls, our open spaces are disappearing right before our eyes,” said McGreevey. “We’re on track to become the first state in America to actually exhaust its supply of land available for development. We must find a balance between economic growth and environment protection.
“Brownfields achieve that balance by returning contaminated, abandoned sites to productive use, while protecting limited open space where development might otherwise occur,” continued the Governor. “No one likes the sight of empty, blighted buildings on our highways and in our towns. But on November 4, the public can help bring these sites back to life.”
Governor McGreevey toured the American Chrome & Iron Oxide brownfield site in Elizabeth, which is slated for new housing and recreational use. Joining him on the tour were members of the Clean and Green Coalition, a newly-formed group of statewide business, industry and environmental groups and municipal officials who are working together to remind voters that on November 4 they have an opportunity to support brownfield redevelopment with Public Question No. 2.
Michael McGuinness, Executive Director of NJ-NAIOP and head of the Clean & Green Coalition said, "We are proud to help lead the way to becoming one of the first states to create a stable and permanent source of funding for the cleanup and redevelopment of New Jersey’s abandoned and contaminated sites."
Public Question No. 2 is a proposal to establish a long-term funding source to help clean up and redevelop approximately 10,000 contaminated or underutilized sites throughout the Garden State. If voters approve, up to $50 million would be available the first year alone, without any additional cost to taxpayers.
The ballot proposal would expand the use of Corporate Business Tax revenues dedicated to the state’s underground storage tank program, which has a current surplus of $100 million that cannot be fully used. The ballot proposal would allow the state to provide municipalities and businesses with loans and grants, using at least 50 percent of the existing $100 million surplus as well as future revenues, which generate a total of about $20 – 30 million each year.
If voters approve the ballot proposal, municipalities will be able to apply for grants and loans of up to $2 million per year for investigation and cleanup activities. Private parties required to perform remedial activities and individuals who want to conduct such actions voluntarily may qualify for loans of up to $1 million per year if they are unable to obtain private funding.
The ballot proposal also earmarks up to $2 million per year for an underground storage tank inspection program. This inspection program will assist tank owners to identify leaking tanks and correct small problems before they become serious environmental concerns.
The American Chrome & Iron Oxide site in Elizabeth is part of the Elizabeth Port Brownfield Development Area. This area includes seven brownfield sites that represent more than 200 acres of land that when remediated can meet housing, education, community, commercial and open space/recreation needs in Elizabeth. The McGreevey Administration’s Brownfield Development Area initiative is designed to help communities affected by multiple brownfield sites coordinate their efforts to spur redevelopment of residential, industrial and commercial neighborhoods.
Elizabeth Mayor Chris Bollwage said, “Whether you are building the largest outlet mall in the state or neighborhood soccer fields, securing funds for this transformation process will only advance and assist municipalities. Cleaning and developing underutilized and abandoned sites throughout New Jersey is critical to the vitality of our urban centers. These projects create additional ratables for municipalities, yield additional revenue for the state, revitalize communities and contribute to an overall improved quality of life.”
The McGreevey Administration has worked aggressively to create innovative programs to promote brownfield redevelopment. The Governor signed legislation expanding tax reimbursements for projects that convert brownfield sites into residential development. The Governor also provided $40 million in funding for brownfield investigation and cleanup projects through the Hazardous Discharge Site Remediation Fund.
Since fund’s inception 10 years ago, EDA has invested $100 million for 1,000 brownfield projects. Since the Governor took office, he has invested nearly $14.6 million to fund 156 brownfields projects.
This same fund would be used in the future to distribute the stable source of monies for brownfield loans and grants called for in the ballot initiative. The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (EDA) will partner to administer the funding program. The two agencies provide environmental and financial review of remediation projects.
Last month, the Administration also launched a new Cleanup Star program to expand the role of environmental consultants by allowing those pre-qualified by DEP to work with developers and responsible parties to expedite site cleanups and redevelopment. DEP also has been working on brownfield to greenfield projects to meet the need for parks and open space, especially in older suburban and urban areas.
“Restoring New Jersey’s 10,000 sites where the landscapes have been blighted by improper use of hazardous waste is a key component of the Governor’s smart growth agenda,” said DEP Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell. “New funding initiatives will help us restore those tainted sites and channel new development to our cities and towns. They will also provide a broader range of choices and more livable communities for the state’s businesses and families.”
EDA Chief Executive Officer Caren S. Franzini added, “The state has already committed over $100 million to over 1,000 brownfields projects through the HDSRF. By providing a stable source of funding to the Fund for brownfield investigation and remediation, we are providing municipalities and developers with the tools they need to restore economic viability to abandoned, contaminated eyesores in their communities.”
Brownfield sites are properties that are, or may be, contaminated with hazardous substances and are either abandoned or sitting idle and underutilized. These sites threaten the environment, drain the economy and spoil the quality of life in New Jersey’s communities.
Voters can learn more about the ballot initiatives at www.state.nj.us/dep/antisprawl/ballot. Posted by: Staff at rt23.com
October 22, 2003
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