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  • 08 Jul 2015 2:39 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    An update for all NSCW 2015 Attendees and any BCONE members in New York State or doing business in New York State - The Reformed Brownfield Cleanup Program from our contacts in the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation:

    July 1, 2015, was the effective date of the reformed Brownfield Cleanup Program (BCP), based on the revisions to the Environmental Conservation Law (ECL) enacted as part of this year’s State budget. DEC is accepting applications for the new program and the application form and instructions are available on the web, as described below.

    BCP Reform Changes

    Most of the significant changes which initially will affect implementation of the program are associated with eligibility for the program and the two-tiered approach for sites in New York City. To address these, DEC has developed a new application form and directions for its use which are available on the website, along with some additional guidance on how DEC will process and handle the applications. Information about eligibility, the application process, and program requirements can be accessed through the following link:
    http://www.dec.ny.gov/chemical/8450.html

    Several other changes have been made to the program as outlined in the summary of changes, which can be accessed through the following link:
    http://www.dec.ny.gov/chemical/101350.html

    Changes of Note:

    • Volunteer Oversight Costs: The recent changes to the BCP include a change to subdivision 2 of section 27-1409 of the ECL which removed the obligation for Volunteers accepted into the BCP to pay state oversight costs, effective July 1, 2015. This change does not remove the obligation to pay state costs incurred up to that date. DEC will be preparing and sending final bills for state cost incurred up to July 1st for all BCP sites with approved brownfield cleanup agreements based on our regular schedule for such billings. All volunteer Applicants can anticipate receiving a final bill through this date over the next year which is our regular billing cycle.
    • BCP-EZ Status: In exchange for waiving any right to tax credits, lightly contaminated sites would be able to enter a streamlined program, the BCP-EZ option, with State oversight of the cleanup work. BCP-EZ will enable sites to get the critical liability release and obtain financing.

    The law requires DEC to promulgate regulations before the program can be implemented. DEC currently has a 6 NYCCR Part 375 regulations proposal out for comment with promulgation required by October 1, 2015 for definitions related to the BCP. DEC plans to start the process for adding the BCP-EZ and other required updates to Part 375 within the next few months and does not expect to have proposed regulations until early 2016. It is not likely the BCP-EZ program will be available until the summer of 2016.

  • 08 Jul 2015 2:32 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Thanks to Steve Jaffe, President of BCONE and the Manko Gold law firm for bringing this to the attention of BCONE members.

    On June 30th, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers published their final rule defining the scope of the term "waters of the United States," which is used to determine federal jurisdiction pursuant to the requirements of the Clean Water Act, including but not limited to the federal Section 404 wetlands permitting program. The final rule in the Federal Register will take effect in 60 days -- Friday, August 28.

    18 states filed suit in three different lawsuits opposing the final rule, alleging in the lawsuit filed by Texas that the final rule "is an unconstitutional and impermissible expansion of federal power over the states and their citizens and property owners." The Texas lawsuit was filed in federal court in Texas and was joined by Mississippi and Louisiana. Ohio and Michigan sued in Ohio federal court. Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming filed suit in North Dakota federal court. Notably, no New England, Mid-Atlantic or southern states have filed suit as of this date.

    Although the resolution of these lawsuits is uncertain, one thing is clear - the dispute over the meaning of the phrase "waters of the United States" as used in the Clean Water Act is far from over.

  • 08 Jul 2015 2:28 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Thanks to Steve Jaffe, President of BCONE and the Manko Gold law firm for bringing this to the attention of BCONE members who work with and under the New Jersey Spill Act:

    In the landmark decision, Morristown Associates v. Grant Oil Co., the New Jersey Supreme Court finally resolved what many often wondered, "whether New Jersey's general six-year statute of limitations applies to a private party contribution claim to recover cleanup costs under the state's Spill Compensation and Control Act?" The answer from the Court is - a Spill Act contribution claim is not subject to any statute of limitations. The case has been under the watchful and undoubtedly anxious eye of not only the parties to the case, but many Spill Act contribution plaintiffs, potential defendants, New Jersey practitioners, the NJDEP and a host of interested amici parties preparing for the possibility that the Court would uphold the two lower court decisions - and fall in line with several federal cases that have held the general six-year statute of limitations applied to such claims. Such a result would certainly have had a greater impact than the current ruling, which maintains the status quo of how Spill Act contribution claims had historically been handled in state court, with the exception of the lower court rulings in the Morristown Associates case. In reaching its decision, the Court did not seem to struggle with the various and complex arguments presented by the parties in the case, but found support for its ruling in what it viewed as the plain language of the Spill Act, its legislative history and policy considerations.

    The Court noted that "while the contribution provision does not explicitly state that no statute of limitations applies, it does state that '[a] contribution defendant shall have only the defenses to liability available to parties pursuant to [N.J.S.A. 58:10-23.11.g (d)].'" The defenses set forth at N.J.S.A. 58:10-23.11.g (d) are limited to an act or omission caused solely by war, sabotage, or God, or a combination thereof, and do not include a statute of limitations defense. The Court concluded that by expressly listing which defenses are available to defendants, that there is "significant support for a conclusion that no statute of limitations applies" and that such a finding reflects legislative intent. The Court stated that although it does not find the language of the Spill Act to be ambiguous, its construction is "support[ed by] the longstanding view, expressed by the Legislature and adhered to by the courts, that the Spill Act is remedial legislation designed to cast a wide net over those responsible for hazardous substances and their discharge on the land and waters of this state."

    While the Court's ruling provides relief to any contribution plaintiff that might otherwise be facing a potential statute of limitations defense, there is always a chance the New Jersey State Legislature will amend the Spill Act to incorporate a specific statute of limitations. Accordingly, the Court invited the Legislature to correct it if the Court erred in its decision, stating that "[i]f the Legislature intended something other than what we perceive to be a broad approach to holding parties responsible for their role in polluting the land and waters of New Jersey, then legislative correction can fix any interpretive misunderstanding." And, it is still important to fully consider the various implications of when a Spill Act contribution claim is pursued. Aside from potential future Legislative action, there are other factors to consider in deciding whether to pursue and defend contribution claims early in the remediation process, including: the preservation of evidence; less risk that potentially responsible parties, including additional third-parties, will no longer be viable or financially able to contribute to the cleanup; the potential for buy-in and agreement on the selected remedy; and the potential for reaching a resolution outside of costly litigation.

  • 11 Jun 2015 2:34 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By LUKE MALANGA

    June 4, 2015 at 10:30 PM

    New Jersey, “The Garden State,” is home to acres of parks, farmland and reservations. The Great Swamp Wildlife Refuge and Passaic River are examples of these pristine locations. However, New Jersey is also the most densely populated state in the U.S. with overflow from New York City leading to increasing development in New Jersey such as the enormous sports complexes in the meadowlands.

    Situated in the metropolitan area, New Jersey struggles with the balance between industrial development and protecting its natural areas. One solution to this density issue in New Jersey to to look at remediating past mistakes. Former industrial or commercial sites affected by environmental contamination, known as "Brownfields," are perceived by environmental scientists as a huge issue. However, these Brownfields can and should be seen by developers and zoning committees as opportunities for rebuilding natural land.

    One Brownfield success story in New Jersey is a prime example for how future remediation should be dictated. Snyder Field Park in Berkeley Heights was once an abandoned fuel depot. in 2003, Union County and Berkeley Heights Township cooperated to purchase the property for public use for a total of $13 million.

    The park was constructed with funding from the Union County Open Space, Recreation and Historic Preservation Trust Fund, and a New Jersey Green Acres grant. Snyder Park occupies part of a 17-acre piece of land that formerly housed a plastics factory and a fuel depot. As a condition of the purchase, the previous owners (Shaw Plastics company, as well as Barry Oil Service and Duffy Fuels) cleaned up environmental hazards on the site at no cost to the public.

    The Freeholder board voted in 2005 for the PMK Group of Cranford, which specializes in environmental services, to operate the remediation of the Snyder Avenue property in Berkeley Heights. The multi-use county park opened in 2010 after remediation of the soil to remove oil and other contaminates and the construction of a multi-sport turf field (with lighting and bleachers), baseball field, playground, walking trails and parking.

    Union County Freeholder Chairman Daniel P. Sullivan, who signed the agreement to purchase the land in 2003, said, “This is one of the best projects we’ve ever done. It shows how a municipality and the county can work together. This was a fuel depot and plastics factory. It could have been high density housing….(look at) how much can be accomplished when we all work together.”

    In a Union County press release, Union County Alliance president stated, “Brownfields have become critical resources in Union County. The (New Jersey Green Acre) grant award (helped) make it possible to reclaim land for economic development.”

    New Jersey’s population density and overall lack of space for development has begun to spur desire for Brownfield remediation and redevelopment of old land. The remediation of these sites in the proper way allows for protecting local health and environment (including soil and water safety), opening up new usable land, and the economic benefit of using the land for development.

    In the case of Snyder Field Park, the taxpayers had no significant increase in costs and the surrounding area was blessed with a state-of-the-art park and sports complex. Now, rather than a site with the threat of causing environmental and health risks, the park is home to club and youth soccer teams, baseball clinics and open public use.

    Fifteen miles north of Snyder is another Brownfield with its fate still undecided. Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital in Morris Plains is home to a 673,700 square foot Kirkbride Building on 743 acres of land.

    Originally opened on Aug. 17, 1876, the hospital was home to hundreds of patients and quickly grew to accommodate thousands suffering from PTSD, schizophrenia and other psychiatric disorders. As de-institutionalization and drugs capable of relieving psychotic disorders become more prevalent, the hospital saw a huge decline in patients.

    The state-run mental institution quickly deteriorated from a sanctuary meant to promote treatment and have a curative effect into an overcrowded and underfunded insane asylum. The decision to close Greystone came about in 2000 because of concerns for the aging buildings and due to negative press it was receiving.

    Today, the entirety of the old Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital is abandoned and deteriorating. Morris County purchased approximately 300 acres of the Greystone Park Psychiatric Center property in 2001 for one dollar, with the stipulation that it would clean up asbestos and other environmental hazards on the site within its decaying buildings. When this land was sold, a law was also passed that Greystone land cannot be used for any purpose other than recreation and conservation, historic preservation or farmland preservation. 

    Many have been fighting the demolition of the building due to its historic significance. The state, however, is also determined to demolish the building and turn it into recreational space to build upon Central Park of Morris County, which surrounds the hospital. The reason the government gave for tearing Greystone down was that anything else is “economically not feasible.” 

    In addition, they claimed the building is “too far gone to save.” Before demolition begins, an environmental remediation process must be conducted, removing asbestos, lead paint and other hazardous material from the site.

     “The Christie administration is committed to converting the property to open space for the public to enjoy," Joseph Perone, communications director for state department of the treasury, said. "We discussed the (preservation) group’s concerns because we thought they were worth exploring. However, we concluded that the financial risk of preserving or rehabilitating the Kirkbride Building is insurmountable.”

    Will Needham, the vice-president of Preserve Greystone quoted Winston Churchill saying, “ ’At first we shape our buildings, and thereafter, they shape us,’ What type of legacy are we leaving behind if we bulldoze all of our historic buildings?”

    This question raises the importance of using this precious remediated land in the right way, whether that means preserving history, restoring park space, or creating residential or commercial spaces.

    The process to turn Brownfields into “goldfields” is one that is taking shape throughout New Jersey. Harrison is home to one Brownfield success story, but also many other abandoned lots and factories that pose a threat to the local environment.

    Red Bull Arena, home to Major League Soccer’s New York Red Bulls, was built on land bought by the private company Red Bull GmbH that was a Hudson County Brownfield, housing abandoned warehouses.

    “This area was a blighted, abandoned collection of warehouses on contaminated soil, which has been cleaned up," Erik Stover, former managing director of the New York Red Bulls, said. "The stadium is phase one, which will be followed by the building of useful housing and retail.”

    Stover’s comment is insightful to the aspirations of Brownfield Remediation across New Jersey; improving one site with the hope of it sparking more remediation and development action. The stadium is a cornerstone for redevelopment in the cities of New Jersey, but also a vivid example of how Brownfield Remediation can improve the environment, economy, and city life.

    New Jersey Monthly describes Harrison as the “latest hotbed for urban redevelopment” with “redevelopment plans to transform the Hudson County town’s blighted industrial section into a gentrified neighborhood.”

    The warehouses that besiege the surroundings of the shiny arena are also representative of the work that still needs to be done. The success of turning Brownfields into recreational, residential, and commercial sites has been widely examined. However, it’s important to avoid past mistakes of continuing the cycle of destroying and repairing land through profligate development.

    Instead, with these new projects, developers, city planners and environmental agencies must work together to redevelop land and create a better New Jersey. Brownfields should be seen as fields of dreams to repair mistakes of the past and create a more sustainable future.

  • 28 May 2015 3:49 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Brownfield Office webpage has been updated.  For those of you who attended the May 1st Roundtable, the presentations have been posted on the website.  Please also note the future dates for the remaining roundtable meetings and save the dates.

    http://www.nj.gov/dep/srp/brownfields/roundtables/index.html

  • 28 May 2015 3:02 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    We'd like to thank Michael Goldstein, Esq. from The Goldstein Environmental Law Firm for sending us a copy of this analysis. Several of the Training Grant Recipients are in the BCONE geographic area and we thought our members and readers would be interested in this information. Click here to download this analysis.
  • 28 May 2015 2:59 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Many communities across the country have been revitalizing their older neighborhoods, traditional downtowns, and central business districts. However, economically distressed communities have been less able to attract this kind of infill development and attain the accompanying economic, environmental, health, and quality of life benefits.

    EPA’s new report, Attracting Infill Development in Distressed Communities: 30 Strategies, can help these communities determine their readiness to pursue infill development and identify strategies to better position themselves to attract infill development.

    • It presents strategies and case studies to establish priorities, policies, and partnerships and change public perceptions, which can help make infill development more feasible.
    • It discusses innovative strategies to help finance infill development and replace aging infrastructure.
    • It includes comprehensive self-assessment questions communities can answer to determine if they are ready to pursue infill development and if particular strategies are appropriate for their context.

    Many of the strategies in this publication stem from work in Fresno, California, that was part of the Strong Cities, Strong Communities (SC2) initiative, which provides intensive technical assistance and capacity building to economically distressed cities. EPA and the state of California partnered with the city to convene a task force of experts in development finance, law, public policy, planning, and business to identify strategies to promote infill that were feasible in Fresno’s challenging economic and fiscal environment. EPA developed this publication based in part on the task force’s work.

    To download Attracting Infill Development in Distressed Communities: 30 Strategies, go to www2.epa.gov/smart-growth/attracting-infill-development-distressed-communities.

    To learn more about EPA’s work on smart growth and infill development, go to www2.epa.gov/smart-growth/smart-growth-brownfields-and-infill-development.

    You are subscribed to EPA's Smart Growth Listserv. To unsubscribe from this mailing list, click here: http://yosemite.epa.gov/opei/opeipub.nsf/Membership

    EPA's Smart Growth Listserv is maintained by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Sustainable Communities. To contact us, please e-mail smartgrowth@epa.gov. Learn more about smart growth at www.epa.gov/smartgrowth

  • 20 May 2015 11:20 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Did you attend the Innovative Private Funding for Site Redevelopment panel at BCONE’s NSCW 2015?  If you did, you heard about the EB-5 program, which offers legal immigration status in exchange for investment in redevelopment projects. If you missed the session, or you want to read more, go to the New York Times Real Estate section article from May 17, 2015 http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/17/realestate/want-a-green-card-invest-in-real-estate.html?_r=0

  • 20 Apr 2015 11:18 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The New York City Brownfield Partnership, a non-profit public-private partnership promoting the cleanup and redevelopment of brownfield sites in New York City, recently released an update of its 2014 study that analyzed the impact of the New York State Brownfield Cleanup Program (BCP) on the cleanup and redevelopment of brownfield sites in New York State.  Both the 2014 study and the update were authored by Barry F. Hersh, Clinical Associate Professor at New York University’s Schack Institute of Real Estate, with financial support from the Partnership. Click here to go to the NYC Brownfield Partnership website and learn more about the study.


  • 19 Feb 2015 4:05 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    On February 4, 2015, BCONE joined the New Jersey Society of Women Environmental Professionals (NJSWEP) to host the NJDEP Regulatory Update. The session was a big deal! It was the first time in years that the NJDEP has held the Regulatory Update with NJSWEP. The Department's expressed gratitude that the event was held at the NJDEP building and that NJDEP personnel were allowed to attend and receive the training was great news for NJSWEP and BCONE.


    The NJDEP has been busy and reported a large amount of interesting news about programs, regulations, enforcement and compliance. A summary of the event can be read by clicking on this link.  Thanks to Rick Shoyer of Advanced GeoServices for the summary. NJSWEP and BCONE look forward to putting the Regulatory Update back on their annual calendars of events.

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