Friday, February 22, 2008

City to Seek Brownfields Funding

To advance several redevelopment projects, the city intends to apply to a state program that provides $5 million annually for brownfields remediation.

Click here for an explanation of brownfields by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Planning Board Chairman Ken Robertson said Thursday the board is being asked to endorse the application, which is due at the state Department of Environmental Protection by March 31. Municipalities must form a steering committee showing broad community support for designation as a “Brownfields Development Area.” Besides receiving funds that help attract developers by reducing remediation costs, designated cities get a case manager who monitors and expedites all its brownfields redevelopment.

Plainfield will seek designation for five redevelopment areas. They include the Marino’s tract on West Front Street, the site of a former car dealership; the North Avenue Historic District, which is being expanded to include a city parking lot; the East Third and Richmond site that includes the former Cozzoli Machine Company property; the former Disco Aluminum site; and a former gas station site that is targeted for the second phase of the Arlington Heights townhouse project.

The required steering committee must include stakeholders such as property owners, developers, city staff and legislators “that may shape the vision and support the implementation” of the Brownfields Development Area, according to a letter to the Planning board from Assistant Economic Development Director Jacques Howard. A public presentation on the Brownfields Redevelopment Area is planned for March, Howard said.

The city’s roster of redevelopment proposals swelled to nearly 20 in the past few years, but market conditions have caused a slowdown. The presence of contamination and the cost of cleanups can also be a deterrent to redevelopment. In cities chosen for the remediation program, the state DEP will work with the New Jersey Economic Development Authority and the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs’ Office of Smart Growth “to remediate and revitalize communities and neighborhoods, not just individual properties,” a synopsis of the Brownfield Development Area initiative states.

--Bernice Paglia


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