Many thanks to BCONE Board Member Alan Miller of NJDEP for presenting on the CCI and thanks also to Advisory Council Member Neil Yoskin, Esq. of Cullen and Dykman LLP for his wonderful writeup. If you missed the breakfast and the recent newspaper coverage about the CCI, here is what you need to know about the program.
The Community Collaborative Initiative (CCI) originated organically in the late 2000s from NJDEP’s Brownfield Development Area (BDA) in Camden, NJ. BDA manager Frank McLaughlin of DEP began to integrate brownfields redevelopment with other environmental challenges like combined sewage overflow (CSO) flooding and lack of community access to the waterfront. It was expanded to other cities as a pilot program: DEP looked for locations where BDAs and CSOs overlapped, and identified eleven candidate cities, notably Perth Amboy and Trenton. CCI is undergoing a major expansion into several cities in Southern New Jersey this month (September, 2019).
The CCI Program helps make good projects great and addresses environmental challenges, economic development, and quality of life issues. The CCI approach involves DEP as a partner, not a regulator. One of the significant differences between CCI and other programs is that a DEP representative is embedded as part of the team. Alan Miller, for example, is embedded in Bayonne. Also, the municipality sets the CCI priorities, not DEP.
CCI is a collaborative process: across local and state government and across agencies. It is housed in DEP’s Site Remediation Program for administrative purposes and reports to Director Ken Kloo. Another state organization, the Economic Development Authority (EDA) has funded a program expansion. Current CEO of EDA, Tim Sullivan, has a strong background in brownfields from his experience in NY and CT and BCONE has had the pleasure of working with Mr. Sullivan over the years in his many roles. EDA and DEP are partners on many programs, including brownfield loans and grants. The Department of Community Affairs’ (DCA) Division of Local Government Services can play a role in the process, as can qualified Opportunity Zones.