A brownfield is a property, the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant. Broward, Miami-Dade, and Monroe Counties together have designated 100 “Brownfield Areas” where contamination is either confirmed or perceived to be present. The South Florida Regional Planning Council supports the planning, assessment, cleanup, and sustainable development of Brownfields by providing technical assistance, loans, and bringing municipal, private, and community stakeholders together to redress related issues.
The South Florida Regional Planning Council administers a Brownfields Cleanup Revolving Loan Fund (BCRLF) with funding from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The loan funds are available to fund Brownfields remediation activities which will advance redevelopment projects. The resulting Brownfields redevelopment projects are expected to support job creation or housing development; stimulate the economy; and promote economic diversification in Broward, Monroe, and Miami-Dade Counties.
One of the primary goals of the Brownfield Cleanup Revolving Loan Fund Program is to assist investment in Brownfield sites as well as the communities in which the sites are located. The BCRLF Program staff works with local and state agencies to ensure borrowers have information about and access to tax incentives and credits. The Program is used in conjunction with other economic development tools and works with entrepreneur training organizations to enhance opportunities to expand existing and/or create new businesses that support or are ancillary to those activities in the remediated site.
Brownfield loans can help alleviate some of the investment risk and attract more experienced developers. The Brownfields redevelopment program allows many of the environmental and social justice issues such as soil contamination, blight, lost revenues, unemployment, crime and poor health to be addressed. Brownfields redevelopment is an excellent opportunity for communities normally passed over for major development and capital investments to leverage vacant and abandoned properties into workforce housing, mixed-use and transit-oriented developments, community gardens, farmers markets, agribusiness enterprises and neighborhood commercial businesses. There is currently approximately $1,000,000 available in revolving loan funds for site remediation.
Eligible entities include local governments, nonprofit organizations, and for-profit private developers as long as they own the site and have not caused the contamination. Projects must enter the Florida Brownfields Program, and the party responsible for the site remediation must enter into a Brownfields Site Rehabilitation Agreement. Loan applicants must demonstrate credit worthiness. The redevelopment end use must be economically and socially beneficial to the community.
Environmental Protection Agency Brownfields Program
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Brownfields Program empowers states, municipalities, communities, and other stakeholders to work together to assess, safely clean up, and sustainably reuse underutilized lands. A brownfield site is real property, the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant. The Small Business Liability Relief and Brownfields Revitalization Act was passed in 2002, to help states and communities cleanup and revitalize brownfields sites. Under this law, EPA provides financial assistance to eligible applicants through four competitive grant programs: assessment grants, revolving loan fund grants, cleanup grants, and job training grants.
In 2015, the U.S. EPA awarded a Brownfields Assessment Coalition Grant to the Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council and its partners, the South Florida Regional Council and Palm Beach County. The assessment grant funds will be used to inventory, characterize, and test potential Brownfield sites in Monroe, Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie, and Indian River Counties. A Request for Qualifications (RFQ) process was used to vet and subsequently select three qualified brownfields/environmental consultants. Assessments will be conducted between October 1, 2015 and September 30, 2018.
Activities That Can Be Funded
• Site inventories and screening for potential contamination issues
• Phase I and Phase II Environmental Site Assessments
• Site Assessment Reports
• Preliminary remediation planning and alternatives analyses
• Community engagement activities
The assessment assistance program is available to local governments (city, village, town, county, redevelopment authority, community development agency, and downtown development authority), prospective purchasers, and other parties that would not be found liable for any existing contamination at the property. The identified site should be abandoned, idle, or underutilized and have the following:
• real or perceived petroleum and/or hazardous substances contamination
• a high degree of redevelopment or reuse potential/tied to a redevelopment plan
• no responsible party able to conduct the environmental investigation
• the support of the local government and the community
Assessment Activities Process
1. Contact the Brownfields Coordinator
2. Complete and submit Site Assessment Application and Access Agreement.
3. Identified projects will be reviewed by the Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council and SFRC Brownfields Coordinators.
4. If approved, the TCRPC will request a proposal from, and issue a Task Assignment to, one of the prequalified consultants for the needed assessment related activity
5. Assessment activities will be conducted by the consultant who will report directly to the TCRPC throughout the process
6. TCRPC will conduct regular grant-required EPA reporting activities and may provide assessment reports to the Brownfields coordinator of the regional environmental regulatory agency