by Kristen E. Humphrey, MLA, Development and Infrastructure Planner with Sylvia A. Mosser, AICP, Resource Conservation Planner
As reported in our July-August edition of Planning Practice Wednesday, Planning, in conjunction with MDE, is stepping up efforts to remediate and reduce the number of brownfields (contaminated or potentially contaminated parcels of land) across Maryland via a new initiative called the Brownfield Redevelopment Outreach Program.
With upwards of 1,800 potentially contaminated sites in Maryland, Planning and MDE are taking a proactive approach to reducing the number of brownfields and reclaiming the land for other, more productive uses. The program’s purpose is educating and connecting local planning jurisdictions across the state with funding opportunities for both brownfield assessments and cleanup; available through the EPA and local sources.
As part of this educational effort, Planning conducted a first-ever, day-long workshop on September 24 at the Eastern Shore Conservation Center (ESCC) in Easton. Entitled Vacancy to Vibrancy Brownfield Bootcamp, more than 50 participants from across the Eastern Shore and throughout the state gathered to learn more about the remediation and reuse of formerly contaminated sites for other developmental purposes. Attendees included representatives of local and state governments and private business, including the finance, real estate, construction, development, environmental and engineering industries, as well as non-profit organizations
Experts from the EPA Region III, the New Jersey Institute of Technology’s Technical Assistance to Brownfield Communities Program (NJIT-TAB), the Maryland Department of Natural Resources’ (MDNR’s) Power Plant Research Program, the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), Maryland’s Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (C-PACE) Program and, of course, Planning, presented on topics including grant funding, leveraging opportunity zones for brownfield redevelopment, technical assistance, resources for the voluntary cleanup process, and siting solar “farms” on brownfields.
Bootcamp participant, Lynn Thomas, Town Planner of Easton, related that he was “pleased to learn about the range and variety of resources that are available through Planning as well as the partner organizations who presented.” In terms of relevance to Easton, he remarked that “we have a key redevelopment area identified and suspect that one or more properties within it may be brownfields. Now we know the need for conducting an inventory as well as who (which agencies) to contact to ascertain the next steps and for additional assistance.”
New to Planning, Susan Llareus, Planner Supervisor, found the Bootcamp very useful for laying out the processes necessary for interested parties to obtain grant monies to clean up sites and restore them to more productive use. After the event Susan remarked, “I was surprised by the degree of technical and legal information presented in just the initial overview at the Bootcamp. It was not only highly informative but also very interesting and I would love to be able to take it on the road to jurisdictions across the state. After all, I suspect a lot of local government officials might be more likely to embark on the process of brownfield remediation and redevelopment with the benefit of this type of training.”
In fact, Planning is looking to hold additional bootcamps in various regions of the state. The locations of future events will depend partly on demand. If you would like to submit a request for a Bootcamp in your area, or for any questions about the program, contact Sylvia Mosser, Resource Conservation Planner with the Maryland Department of Planning, at: 410-767 4487 or Sylvia.firstname.lastname@example.org.