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U.S. Mayors report touts brownfield successes; stays silent on ics

The United States Conference of Mayors recently published “Recycling America’s Land: A National Report on Brownfields Redevelopment.” The report highlighted the successes and benefits of brownfield redevelopment, but stayed silent on the use of Institutional Controls (ICs).  Of course many factors contribute to Brownfield successes but the important role of ICs, and their ongoing stewardship, ought not be overlooked.

Based on a survey of 99 cities, the report found that 1,010 sites had been redeveloped,with 906 additional sites undergoing redevelopment, yielding $309 million of additional tax revenue with the potential for an additional $1 billion in local tax revenues if all brownfields were to be redeveloped.Redevelopment, the report continued, has thus far provided over 161,000 new jobs, nearly 100,000 of which are permanent.The US Environmental Protection Agency also reports as to the  benefits of Brownfield redevelopment.

The U.S. Mayor’s report asked the 99 cities about the tools/programs that contributed to the brownfield redevelopment successes.

successes were made possible, as the report points out, by policy initiatives and programs that city Mayors recommended in 1993.   Namely, the report identified (1) EPA Assessment Funding, (2) Private Sector Investment, (3) EPA Clean-Up Funds, and (4) State Voluntary Clean-Up Programs.

These findings showcase brownfield redevelopment successes that should be applauded and all of us involved with the many aspects of brownfield redevelopment should feel good about these accomplishments. Extrapolating these findings from the 99 cities surveyed to the nearly 39,000 local jurisdictions inventoried by the National League of Cities, the increased land values,tax  revenue, and job creation due to Brownfield redevelopment appears enormous.

From the view of those involved with IC stewardship, this success highlights the importance of as well as the value of land, tax revenue and jobs that are protected by and depend on ICs.  As ASTSWMO reported in its recent land use controls report, the State Voluntary Cleanup Programs, cited by the US Mayors as critical success factors, routinely and increasingly rely on ICs.  Although the U.S. Mayor’s report stays silent on ICs, practitioners recognize that as a rule, rather than an exception, brownfield cleanups rely on ICs.  And the ASTSWMO State agency researchers recognize the crucial importance of IC monitoring and stewardship to the continued success of ICs and implicitly brownfield redevelopment.

Terradex LandWatchTM, which is deployed at over 800 properties (and growing), brings cost effective IC monitoring and stewardship to Brownfields and other IC sites.For about the cost of the few hours it might take to drive to a site and inspect a property, and for costs that amount to a tiny fraction of tax revenues and job creation, LandWatch provides annual IC monitoring that routinely identifies activities that do or potentially could conflict with IC restrictions.The LandWatch experience shows that, by leveraging modern technology and IC know-how, IC monitoring and stewardship can be systematically and efficiently performed.

In forthcoming studies, the U.S. Conference of Mayors or other researchers ought to include the use of ICs as part of their survey questions and evaluations, and relate IC use back to the jobs, tax revenue, and success of Brownfield redevelopment.   Of course many factors contribute to Brownfield successes but the important role of ICs, and their ongoing stewardship, ought not be overlooked.  Some might even make the claim that without a successful IC programs, Brownfield redevelopment could hardly achieve the success it continues to enjoy.

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