Solving the brownfields puzzle

Incentives: Recycling Maryland's old industrial properties is more attractive now than ever.

June 02, 2000

FINDING NEW uses for abandoned and shuttered industrial sites is an essential component of Smart Growth, yet developers have been slow to take advantage of Maryland's brownfields assessment and remediation programs.

Legislation passed in the General Assembly's last session should encourage property owners to consider taking advantage of state and local programs to develop their polluted properties. Under the law, which goes into effect July 1, "responsible parties" -- the businesses that created the pollution -- can apply for grants and low-interest loans to pay for site surveys.

The high cost of these surveys -- as much as several hundred thousand dollars -- has deterred many property owners and developers from recycling old industrial and commercial properties. This new initiative will supplement the state's existing $1.35 million revolving loan fund to finance the cleanup of contaminated sites.

Fifteen businesses have participated in the state's brownfields program. State officials expect that with more money available for site surveys, interest in redeveloping old industrial properties will pick up.

For some local governments, the state program is an important part of their industrial development effort. Baltimore County's brownfields program helped attract General Motors' Allison transmission plant to White Marsh. GM will be getting a 50 percent tax credit on the improvements it has made to the former gravel mine.

The county recently received a $500,000 federal Environmental Protection Agency grant to establish its own brownfields cleanup loan program, which will supplement an earlier $200,000 federal grant to finance site assessments and surveys.

Developers should now have enough state and local incentives to recycle contaminated properties. With local property tax credits, state and county low-interest loans and grants, there is even less reason to build industrial plants on Maryland's farmlands and open space.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.