Brownfield Sites for Redevelopment
What is a Brownfield site?
A Brownfield is a vacant or underused commercial, industrial, or residential property where environmental, economic, and social obstacles hinder use and redevelopment. In addition to contaminated sites, Brownfields also include those sites where contamination is perceived and/or unknown. While assumed to be only industrial sites, Brownfields can occur on many smaller sites, such as former gas stations or junk yards and property along railroads. If you would like to nominate a site as a potential Brownfield, please contact Greater Gratiot Development (see pg. 4).
Why Redevelop Brownfield sites?
In addition to the obvious environmental benefit, Brownfield sites often have excellent potential for redevelopment. Redevelopment of Brownfield sites ensures maximum use of existing infrastructure and conserves Greenfield (vacant) sites. Redevelopment of Brownfields will lead to greater property values and in most cases, additional investment in Gratiot County in the form of additional tax revenue and increased jobs.
What is the Brownfield process?
The Brownfield process starts with an application to the Brownfield Redevelopment Authority of the County of Gratiot (BRACG), which is a partnership of local municipalities and the County, administered by Greater Gratiot Development. After the initial application, the first step is a Phase I Assessment, which determines if the site has potential contamination issues. A Phase II Assessment will include soil, surface water, and ground water testing to reveal the extent of contamination. Next, a Baseline Environmental Assessment is conducted to prevent the current owner from being liable for previous contamination. A Due Care Plan will include the clean-up of existing contamination to required standards. Finally, a Brownfield plan is developed to identify the activities and costs for which a developer may be reimbursed (potentially via Tax Increment Financing).
Michigan Brownfield Laws and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ)
All Michigan brownfield projects require the cooperation of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) to ensure that properties are cleaned up to a standard that is safe for future use. The State of Michigan strives to have the best Brownfield Law in the nation, in terms of environmental protection for residents, liability protection for new facility owners, and incentive packages allowable under the law. Gratiot County is a model community for cooperation between federal, state, and local government agencies. The MDEQ recently performed Phase I and Phase II assessments on the 20-acre former Sumner Township dump, allowing the Gratiot County Parks & Recreation Commission to further consider expanding the adjacent Paul Hubscher County Park.
Incentives for Developers
- Liability protection from existing contamination.
- TIF reimbursement for eligible demolition/cleanup costs.
- Potential environmental assessments through federal grants.
- Typically below average land costs.