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  • 1 Oct 2018 6:10 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Steve Dwyer

    With a goal to reach 50% renewable energy by 2030, New York is beginning to see the light. It comes with the acknowledgement that solar-powered initiatives are an ideal way to offload the reliance on traditional candlepower in favor of a continually growing trend of solar.

    In late August, New York trotted out a new toolkit to drive solar on brownfields—the advent of which comes at a time when solar-powered installations are occurring at a rising clip each year. In NYC, much of that has occurred at the residential level, and it would be interesting to see if urban redevelopment stakeholders have watched how—on a much smaller scale—those investments have reaped positive dividends.

    The placement of solar arrays on brownfields perpetuates the entire spirit of brownfield development tenets that are always seeking to emphasize green building best-practices. Setting the tone for end uses are epitomized by the methods deployed by many brownfield environmental partners, who implement renewable components via green and sustainable cleanup strategies.

    Investing in solar can’t be executed blindly, so earlier this summer the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) released new guidance for municipalities developing solar projects on landfills or brownfields, to maximize expansion on underutilized land and the state’s efforts to increase renewable generation.

    In New York, new streamlined project reviews from the DEC along with NYSERDA’s guidelines are expected to supplement existing solar development incentives and boost installations.

    Those incentives will serve developers quite well: The leasing instructions and templates in the Municipal Solar Procurement Toolkit reflect a lower threshold of environmental review for projects on brownfields and landfills due to recent updates from the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).

    In June, the DEC adopted a rulemaking package to streamline the State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR) regulations, which doesn’t require contractors to make formal assessments of environmental impacts of solar projects on brownfields. As the first update to SEQR in more than two decades, the changes, including the brownfield component, will take effect January 1, 2019.

    Once the SEQR updates are in effect, commercial solar installers or contractors will be able to expedite a once arduous, protracted process. That’s because going forward they can dispense with the task of preparing formal assessments of environmental impacts for certain projects, such as adding solar to landfills and brownfields.

    In June, NYSERDA also unveiled higher incentives for solar projects on landfills and brownfields as part of a set of changes to Gov. Cuomo’s $1 billion solar incentive program called “NY-Sun Megawatt Block.” The guidelines were presented in late August and are intended to help communities facilitate leases on underutilized land for solar projects.

    NYSERDA’s kit has templates for towns to issue RFP’s and other guidance on site identification and considerations. In addition, NYSERDA is conducting a high-level study “to identify priority landfill and brownfield sites across the state,” a NYSERDA spokesperson told the publication Utility Dive.

    Utility Dive also reported that the toolkit is seen as an “excellent guide” to bring investments to the state, according to Dan Whitten, vice president of communications for the Solar Energy Industries Association.

    “It is always a positive when states and municipalities find creative ways to deploy solar energy so that everyone in the community can access it,” Whitten told Utility Dive.

    According to the toolkit, potential goals for a brownfield/landfill solar project range from bringing revenue to towns by leasing public land to providing greater access to solar power through a community solar project.

    It’s not certain if brownfields practitioners can learn anything about New York City-based and surrounding-area solar installations, seeing that it’s an apples and oranges comparison. That said, over the past couple years solar investments have been occurring to a large scale at the residential level.

    In the context of residential solar investments dating to 2016, the number of projects across the five boroughs rose to more than 5,300 from just 186 in 2011, according to state officials. At that time, there were another 1,900 in the pipeline. The solar boom two years ago was prompted by a 70% drop in installation costs, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association, along with the streamlining of government approvals and incentives.

    Those lower solar cost trends continue to prevail in 2018, a positive sign for brownfield-level investments to spawn

    The New York Times reported in 2016 that most of the city’s existing solar projects were occurring in single-family houses on Staten Island, but townhouse owners in Brooklyn had jumped on board the opportunity as well—along with owners of apartment buildings in the Bronx and Queens.

    Two years ago, Gov. Cuomo had called for half of the state’s electricity needs to come from renewable resources by 2030, while Mayor de Blasio sought greenhouse gas emissions in the city to be slashed by 80% by 2050. To that end, Mayor de Blasio unveiled two years ago a 3,152-panel rooftop solar installation at the Brooklyn Navy Yard as a step toward the goal of generating 100 megawatts of renewable energy on public buildings by 2025.

  • 4 Sep 2018 6:09 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Iulia Gheorghiu, Utility Dive

    • The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) released new guidance for municipalities developing solar projects on landfills or brownfields, to maximize expansion on underutilized land and the state’s efforts to increase renewable generation.
    • The leasing instructions and templates in the Municipal Solar Procurement Toolkit reflect a lower threshhold of environmental review for projects on brownfields and landfills due to recent updates from the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).
    • In June, the DEC adopted a rulemaking package to streamline the State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR) regulations, which does not require contractors to make formal assessments of environmental impacts of solar projects on brownfields. As the first update to SEQR in more than two decades, the changes, including the brownfield component, will take effect January 1, 2019.

    For the entire article, see

    https://www.utilitydive.com/news/new-york-unveils-new-toolkit-to-drive-solar-on-brownfields/530856/

  • 4 Sep 2018 6:08 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Steve Dwyer

    When you create a designation around an over-arching concept, like brownfields and its attendant Brownfield Opportunity Area (BOA), you add clarity when factoring in the role of Big Government.

    State and local governing bodies have a lot on their plate and wade through a lot of red tape. Some members are more fluent about certain concepts than other concepts. Creating a designation, you foster clarity and clarity triggers action among the entire governmental body.

    For instance, when tax incremental financing districts (TIF) became prevalent years ago, the concept added much-needed clarity to a funding concept that now brought focus to the table. It served as a precise, niche program that state and local officials could comprehend, get their arms around.

    It became regenerative as a host of new TIF districts were established across urban landscapes in the U.S. The districts were established, then funded, properly rehabilitated and put back into vibrant end use to drive new taxes, economic prosperity and social enhancement.

    The advent of a BOA is akin to the TIF district as you have a program that state and local representatives can see—on paper—comprehend and react. In Big Government, clarity is our friend in a mecca where nebulousness often rules. BOAs get officials thinking about properties in a certain way.

    This comes to mind when considering New York’s continued acknowledgement of BOAs and their ramifications for smart growth and reuse. The state activated the program in 2003, paced by the Superfund/Brownfield law. Under the auspices of the New York Dept. of State, BOA establishment provides municipalities and community-based organizations with assistance, up to 90% of the eligible project costs, to complete revitalization plans and implementation strategies for areas or communities affected by the presence of multiple brownfield sites, and site assessments for strategic brownfield sites.

    Following two years of work, a BOA called West Shore on Staten Island is making inroads. The 179-acre parcel, designated a BOA, is proof positive that “communities across the state are revitalizing vacant brownfield sites and these designations provide the resources to make their grand visions a reality,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently said in a statement.

    Recommendations from the study include major site renovations or developments for seven underutilized properties on the 179 acres, roadway consolidation and infrastructure improvements, and expanded public transit that will serve the Amazon and IKEA facilities.

    The study paid careful attention to creating a district flood resiliency plan, which anticipates flooding issues associated with sea-level rising water in the West Shore’s low-lying areas that currently have limited sewer and stormwater infrastructure.

    It also made numerous recommendations for improving business opportunities in the area, including blanket permitting, new public-private partnerships for service and unique tax incentives.

    In order to qualify for the BOA designation, officials submit a comprehensive revitalization strategy to the New York Department of State, which administers the program and determines if the proposed projects meet the requirements. Cuomo said the grant allows local officials to bring “much needed change” to neglected communities.

    “By dedicating resources to effectively plan for future remediation and redevelopment, we are ushering in a new, sustainable era” for Staten Island, said state Sen. Andrew Lanza (R-Staten Island).

    Cuomo’s official BOA designation provides the Staten Island Economic Development Corp. (SIEDC) with the following tools to encourage redevelopment on the West Shore:

        Support from the Department of State to municipalities and community organizations to pursue implementation of BOA plans;

        Possible priority and preference for state grants and financial assistance for projects located within the BOA;

        Remove uncertainty associated with investment in an emerging market;

        Developers that participate in the Brownfield Cleanup Program (BCP) to remediate and redevelop sites in a designated BOA are eligible for a tax credit “bump-up” of up to 5 percent if the development conforms to the BOA plan.

        Communities may apply to enter the BOA program across three steps:

        Step 1: Pre-Nomination Study – This provides a basic and preliminary analysis of the area affected by brownfield sites including: a description and justification of the study area and associated boundaries; a basic description and understanding of current land use and zoning; the delineation and description of existing brownfield sites and other underutilized properties; and a description of the area’s potential for revitalization.

        Step 2: Nomination – This provides an in-depth and thorough description and analysis, including an economic and market trends analysis, of existing conditions, opportunities, and reuse potential for properties located in the proposed BOA with an emphasis on the identification and reuse potential of strategic sites that are catalysts for revitalization. The Nomination concludes with a description of key findings and recommendations to advance redevelopment of strategic sites and to revitalize the area.

        Step 3: Implementation Strategy – This provides a description of the full range of techniques and actions, ranging from actions and projects that can be undertaken immediately to those which have a longer time-frame, that are necessary to implement the area-wide plan and to ensure that proposed uses and improvements materialize. Site assessments on strategic brownfield sites may be eligible for funding if environmental data is required.

    Legislators are busy people. Programs with designations, such as TIFs and BOAs—that are all carefully mapped out with clear, robust details—have the power to provide the clarity that Big Government requires to first comprehend it, and then act accordingly.


  • 23 Aug 2018 6:07 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Steve Dwyer

    New York City’s ambitious brownfield cleanup program is lapping the efforts of many states, demonstrating the aggressive stance and urgency to return properties back to productive reuse—benefits seen in everything from new tax generation, civic pride and environmental vigilance.

    The Voluntary Cleanup Program, created in 2009 to fill the gaps in a state program for cleaning up contaminated land, was designed to address tainted acreage that had been ineligible for tax credits under the state’s Brownfield Cleanup Program. Nine years later, it has succeeded very well in achieving that mission.

    The City program is outpacing the entire state program, according to a new report. Moreover, the city program is outpacing those sponsored by other states. According to a report released in July by the Furman Center at New York University, the city program has enrolled an impressive number of sites—560 since 2009—compared with statewide programs that started earlier, like New York’s 713 since 2003, or Illinois’ 799 since 1994. The biggest year in the city so far was 2015 when 153 applications were made; in 2017, there were 68.

    You know the expression “a New York minute” very well. The Furman report revealed that it took 20.81 months for the average city site to be remediated compared with 57.96 months for the state sites—a gap that likely reflects the heavier contamination of the state sites, but also epitomizes the efficiencies seen in the way the city approves applications.

    What remains unclear is what impact the remediations are having on the neighborhoods and people nearby. Furman notes that the city’s remediation sites are heavily concentrated in areas like Greenpoint that have seen pronounced gentrification.

    Whether the remediations helped foster rising neighborhood incomes, or merely occurred at the same time—as well as whether those changes benefited incumbent residents or bumped them out—is not answerable with available data. Almost none of the remediated city sites were intended to return to industrial use: In the vast majority of cases, the land’s new lease on life was residential.

    An even bigger question is whether there is more land out there that needs remediating. The Furman report notes that the city’s sites are heavily concentrated in areas that have been rezoned, meaning there might be untapped potential elsewhere on the map.

  • 12 Aug 2018 6:04 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Jarrett Murphy, City Limits (NY)

    A city initiative launched nine years ago to fill the gaps in a state program for cleaning up contaminated land has moved faster and more efficiently than its Albany counterpart, a new report finds.

    The Bloomberg administration created the Voluntary Cleanup Program in 2009 to address tainted acreage that was ineligible for tax credits under the state’s Brownfield Cleanup Program. Both programs aim to address the legacy of industrial pollution that renders many hundreds of parcels in the city unusable, but the state’s program – born in 2003 – targeted more heavily poisoned land. The city’s VCP, which offers regulatory streamlining and grants to facilitate cleanup, is suited for sites with light to moderate levels of toxicity.

    According to a report released this week by the Furman Center at New York University, the city program has enrolled an impressive number of sites—560 since 2009 – compared with statewide programs that started earlier, like New York’s 713 since 2003, or Illinois’ 799 since 1994. The biggest year in the city so far was 2015, when 153 applications were made; in 2017, there were 68.

    For the entire article, see

    https://citylimits.org/2018/08/02/checking-in-on-the-citys-brownfields-program/

    To download the report, go to

    http://furmancenter.org/files/Analysis_of_NYC_Voluntary_Cleanup_Program.pdf

  • 6 Aug 2018 6:03 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    News12 Brooklyn (NY)

    A vacant lot on Driggs Avenue could soon become home to new condominiums.

    It’s currently a so-called brownfield site — a former industrial lot that needs excavation and cleanup.

    Residents say they’re excited to see it spruced up so long as it doesn’t disrupt their neighborhood.

    The 40 new housing units will range in size from studios to four bedrooms. Many of them will have outer spaces inspired by McCarren Park, according to the developer.

    Construction is expected to begin this winter and conclude in 2020.

    For the entire story, including a video, see

    http://brooklyn.news12.com/story/38625030/former-williamsburg-industrial-lot-to-become-green-condominiums

  • 23 Jul 2018 6:02 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Kristin F. Dalton, Staten Island Live (NY)

    Following two years of work on the West Shore, the 179-acre area has been designated a Brownfield Opportunity Area, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced.

    Recommendations from the study include major site renovations or developments for seven underutilized properties on the 179 acres, roadway consolidation and infrastructure improvements, and expanded public transit that will serve the Amazon and IKEA facilities.

    The study paid careful attention to creating a district flood resiliency plan, which anticipates flooding issues associated with sea-level rising water in the West Shore’s low-lying areas that currently have limited sewer and stormwater infrastructure.

    For the entire article, see

    https://www.silive.com/news/2018/06/west_shore_brownfield_grant.html

  • 23 Jul 2018 6:00 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    A special state designation will allow Flushing to transform 62 acres of industrial wasteland into a new district with affordable housing.

    By Danielle Woodward, Flushing-Murray Hill Patch (NY)

    Acres of industrial wasteland that have long line Flushing’s waterfront could soon give way to a vibrant new downtown area complete with affordable housing, thanks to a special designation from the state.

    Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo in June designated 62 acres of land in west downtown Flushing as a “Brownfield Opportunity Area,” a title that helps neighborhoods fast-track transformations of polluted industrial sites into housing or business developments that could drive economic growth.

    “This Brownfield Opportunity Area program gives local leaders the power to bring about much-needed change to properties that have been neglected within their communities,” Cuomo said.

    For the entire article, see

    https://patch.com/new-york/flushing-murray-hill/plans-redevelop-flushing-waterfront-get-state-approval

  • 11 Jul 2018 5:59 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Stephen Merrill Smith, Esq.

    Ernie Rossano of ERM and the President of the NYCBP joined representatives from the Licensed Site Remediation Professionals Association (LSRPA) and the Brownfield Coalition of the Northeast (BCONE) at the Northeast Sustainable Communities Workshop held in May at NJIT to discuss the services each non-profit provides to communities, non-profit groups, and students.

    All three groups have scholarships to give, but the overall feeling is that they could do a better job of getting the word out.

    Each has some version of a “pro bono counseling program” for communities and/or organization members.

    One important difference pointed out by NYCBP President Ernie Rossano is that that the Partnership works closely with the NYC Mayor’s Office of Environmental Remediation (OER). Sue Boyle of GEI Consultants, Inc, and the contracted Executive Director for each organization reiterated how important it is to form a good relationship with government agencies; in the case of the NYCBP, OER has resources to get the word out and when it hears questions about brownfields, they can send them to the Partnership. Many small developers and property owners are unfamiliar with the government programs and possibly even scared of going to the government. So it’s extremely helpful to have the Partnership as a non-governmental group that can work with interested parties and developers.

    Denise Nickel of Middlesex County and the BCONE Advisory Board emphasized how important it is to constantly work all avenues to get the word out on the services available from non-profit organizations like LSRPA, BCONE, and the NYCBP. She reiterated the need effective and constant marketing.

    Suggestions from session participants included participating in an annual summit with the legislators and other members of the state government, perhaps once a year if the legislature devotes an entire day to listening to groups and organizations about what they do and how they can be of benefit to the state.

    Regarding scholarships, the topic of contacts within colleges and universities was suggested by several participants. Participants suggested that contacts be made at all pertinent individual departments within the university that needed to hear about scholarship resources available. For example, establish a contact in the business school, in the engineering school, and in the environmental courses and programs that universities and graduate schools have. President Rossano mentioned that establishing the right individual person contact was key, that the NYCBP had reached out to financial aid offices without much success. He and others agreed that the most important individual contact to get the word out would be individual professors, such as faculty advisors to students getting their masters or doctorate degrees. Of the three organizations, NYCBP has the longest-running scholarship program and provides a higher number of scholarships per year than the other two groups.

    Regarding outreach, one participant mentioned that the Association of Associations could be tapped to multiply the network of people who can get the word out. Another participant suggested that when academics send out requests for interns for their offices, that this would be a good time to send out scholarship information as well. Still another participant suggested a process of being in constant contact. She said there are three things that worked well: first, send out scholarship information way in advance, second, keep lists of everyone that you’ve worked with– any organization or any school worked with. Third, determine five touch points to remind people. This was especially important. Her organization found that five reminders was the right number to get people to attend events, turn in applications, or complete anything that had a deadline.

    Social media came up as an important way to get the word out. Additionally, a participant suggested going to sororities and fraternities, or perhaps to one of the meetings of the Greek Society (an organization representing all the sororities and fraternities on campus) with scholarship information. It was also suggested that it might not be too early to give information to high school counselors to information them about the availability of these scholarships for their pre-college seniors.

  • 28 Jun 2018 5:52 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The NYCBP Legislative/Policy Committee held a conference call on June 26, 2018, with a really full agenda. Chairman David J. Freeman, Esq. asked that this information be shared with the entire membership of the Partnership. If you are interested in these topics, please join the Legislative/Policy Committee and become active in its work.

    New York State

    1. The NY Construction Materials Association’s Part 360 lawsuit resulted in settlement discussions with NYSDEC and the Attorney Generals’ office. The most recent meeting happened on June 21, 2018. An important aspect of the settlement was that the settlement agreements would be legally binding (court ordered) stipulations and would be posted on the NYSDEC website. 11 agreed-upon implementation issues were posted on NYSDEC’s website yesterday. Both sides (NY Materials and DEC) have agreed that “plain language” versions must be developed before the work is finalized. Here is a link to the stipulations as posted on the NYSDEC website: https://www.dec.ny.gov/regulations/81768.html
    2. Rick Clarkson of NYSDEC’s presentation on 360 Revisions was shared by the CCLR, a like-minded non-profit organization that partners with the NYCBP on the exchange of information and ideas. Click here to view the presentation.
    3. CCLR also shared Governor Cuomo’s Press Release on new Brownfield Opportunity Area program designations. Click here to view the Press Release.
    4. Two pieces of legislation, S8636A as passed in the NYS Senate and the “long bill” (A10954) introduced in both houses and referred to Environmental Conservation committees can be accessed here: S8636A and A10954.

    NYCBP Legislative/Policy Committee member, Phil Bousquet, Esq. provided comments on the ”long bill;” this information may ease your reading of it.

    “There is a typo on page 4, line 46 – the language should read “Site preparation cost *shall* include the costs of remedial action cover systems …” [i.e., replace “shall not” with “shall”]. As it currently reads, “shall not include” directly contradicts the addition of “remedial action” at line 30 on that same page. My understanding is that the failure to delete the word “not” is simply a drafting oversight that will be corrected.

    With that one exception the Tax Law changes in the long bill should work well as written, and the underlying (and closely knit) ECL changes would be very helpful to clarify questions that I often encounter in practice when helping clients understand the scope of remedial activities going into the site prep credit calculation.

    The effective date language in the long bill is confusing, and I’m not quite sure what the drafter intended it to mean. If the idea is that the amendments are to supersede any prior definition or interpretation of the definition by the NYS Tax Dept, then that is helpful. However, my guess is that the drafter would not want taxpayers whose site preparation claims have been finally determined (after audit and after any appeals are closed off) to somehow have a “reopener.” Conversely, for taxpayers whose site prep claims have NOT been finally determined, the new definition should definitely apply, because this bill is intended to correct the Tax Department’s ongoing misreading of the definition. The effective date language in S8636A addresses these points, and should be worked into the “long bill” before reintroduction in the next term. “

    Federal

    USEPA is seeking comments on 3 aspect of brownfield funding in the BUILD Act. See the Federal Register notice sent by Larry Schnapf, Esq., NYCBP Legislative/Policy Committee member, who, in addition to Chairman David Freeman and the Gibbons Environmental Law group, is keeping the NYCBP updated regularly on federal activity on brownfields, including the Superfund Task Force’s efforts to make those sites available for redevelopment. Click here to view EPA BUILD Act and Brownfields.

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