Brownfield Opportunity Areas 

The Chairman of the Senate Environmental Conservation Committee, Mark Grisanti of Buffalo, has introduced a bill (S.6316) to strengthen the Brownfield Opportunity Area ("BOA") program and to rectify some anomalies that have existed since the establishment of the program in 2003.

The bill would expand funding opportunities (within the limits of legislative appropriation) for BOA activities and give the Secretary of State more authority to coordinate with other agencies and to seek out funding and other resources for BOA projects. Specifically, the bill would:

  • redefine “Brownfield Opportunity Area” to include a BOA study area, thereby allowing BOA projects to benefit from preferences and incentives that currently attach only after a formal BOA designation; 
  • require the Secretary to notify other agencies of the initiation of a BOA and request any information that might assist the BOA grantee in gathering information relevant to planning activities;
  • give the Secretary the responsibility and authority to determine whether a brownfield project within the Department of Environmental Conservation’s ("DEC") Brownfield Cleanup Program ("BCP") is “consistent” with a BOA, which, in turn is determinative of eligibility for certain incentives in the BCP;
  • make site investigation and remedial plans eligible activities under Step 2 to help BOA grantees to market strategic sites within their BOAs;
  • require the Secretary to produce an annual brownfield preference and priority report, building on existing provisions that encourage other government agencies to provide a funding preference for BOA projects; and
  • require BOA grantees to report annually to the Secretary regarding funding expenditures and future resource needs.

Though the BOA program is administered by the Department of State, the Grisanti bill would amend several provisions of the Environmental Conservation Law to align BOA goals with those of the BCP. These new provisions would:

  • clarify that the BCP supports the BOA program goals;
  • in the case of brownfield sites located in a BOA, require a site owner in the BCP to verify that the proposed cleanup plan – or “remedy” – is compatible with the BOA,
  • require DEC to include in its BCP site data base a site’s BOA status;
  • make BOA brownfields eligible for Technical Assistance Grants ("TAGs") to non-profits;
  • require DEC, in its annual BCP report to the legislature, to specify at various stages in the remediation process the number of BCP sites that are located in BOAs, and 
  • exempt developers from the requirement to pay State oversight costs in the BCP if a site is in a BOA and its future use is compatible with the BOA.

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