Resources and Tools
by Kristen E. Humphrey, MLA, Local Assistance and Training Planner with
Sylvia A. Mosser, AICP, Resource Conservation Planner
Every county in Maryland has brownfields. They include buildings and sites previously used for dry cleaners, auto body repair, gas stations, manufacturing and industrial uses, as well as buildings with asbestos or lead-based paint issues. Obtaining funding for assessments and cleanup is key to local efforts to transform brownfields into community assets; whether for new businesses, government facilities, parks, or tourism destinations.
In our August 2019 edition of Planning Practice Monthly, we provided an introduction to brownfields and their potential for redevelopment in Maryland, highlighting the Maryland Department of Planning’s (Planning) new Brownfield Redevelopment Assistance Program, developed in partnership with the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE). We also conducted our first-ever “Vacancy to Vibrancy Bootcamp” training session last year, which was created in partnership with MDE, the New Jersey Institute of Technology Technical Assistance for Brownfields Program (NJIT TAB), and the U.S. EPA Region III.
As the response to the bootcamp was overwhelmingly positive, Planning is now offering to bring this training, along with an array of services, to local jurisdictions interested in redeveloping brownfields in their area. Even amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Planning continues to provide the training and tools necessary to help connect local governments and their economic development partners to federal and state resources to identify, assess, clean up, and redevelop their brownfield sites. Planning is offering these trainings to metropolitan planning organizations, tri-county councils, and local governments. One event is already in the works. EPA, MDE, and Planning are crafting a virtual presentation for Worcester County Economic Development on May 7, 2020. We are surveying them about their brownfield areas of interest so we can focus the presentation to meet their specific needs. The other presentation is for the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, which will be scheduled once COVID-19 social distancing requirements are eased and we can plan an in-person presentation.
Additionally, Planning has launched a new webpage dedicated to the Brownfield Redevelopment Assistance Program. In addition to answering some of your most frequently asked questions, the webpage has links to information on the program’s mission and services, funding and tax incentives, various resources, as well as case studies of successful remediations (see links to Success Stories here).
Currently, the site features McCord Laundry Building (no relation to Planning’s esteemed Secretary Rob McCord!) in Easton and Carroll Creek Park in Frederick — two very different uses of former brownfield sites. Both case studies provide essential information about the remediations including project timelines, environmental histories, site features, financing, redevelopment, and community benefits arising from their “rebirth.” Eventually at least one brownfield redevelopment project will be highlighted in each region of the state.
“Planning is available for you, your counties, and your municipalities to assist in the development of grant proposals, answer technical and financial assistance questions, and conduct analyses to enable you to identify and achieve your brownfield redevelopment goals,” says Sylvia Mosser, Resource Conservation Planner. “Any assistance we provide is free of charge.”
In addition to virtual/online training, Planning also offers the following types of assistance:
- Developing a custom inventory of brownfields within a given jurisdiction
- Assistance with mapping brownfields using MDE’s Land Restoration Program (LRP) mapping tool (see screenshot below) which can also be utilized to search for sites with known environmental issues, determinations, and determination areas *
- Acting as a liaison with MDE, EPA Region III, and the New Jersey Institute of Technology Technical Assistance for Brownfields Program (NJIT TAB) for EPA Region III
- Coordinating assistance among various federal, state, and non-profit organizations
- Identifying grants and developing grant applications and, if awarded, assisting in grant management
- Recommending comprehensive plan language or zoning/subdivision code modifications to facilitate brownfield redevelopment (e.g., rezoning an industrial parcel to commercial, residential or mixed use, as needed and appropriate once remediation is complete)
Please visit Planning’s new Brownfield Redevelopment Assistance Program webpage to learn more. To inquire about a presentation and discussion of brownfield redevelopment services, and how they might be of interest to your local jurisdiction and its constituents, contact Sylvia Mosser at firstname.lastname@example.org or (410) 767-4487 (email is the preferred method of contact during the COVID-19 remote working period).