Due to Fulton County’s long industrial history, numerous brownfields litter the the county’s urban centers and waterways. It is a familiar scene – an abandoned gas station, a dilapidated manufacturing facility, an empty or run-down warehouse. The site is known in your community as an “eyesore,” and could even be considered a hazard. Now imagine that site transformed into a bustling public park, a shared community garden, a revitalized commercial space, or a thriving new business.
What is a brownfield?
A brownfield is defined as: real property, the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or further defines the term to include a site that is: “contaminated by a controlled substance; contaminated by petroleum or a petroleum product excluded from the definition of ‘hazardous substance’; or mine-scarred land.”
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What is an EPA Brownfield Assessment Grant?
Developers ignore these sites due to the unknown environmental issues and potential costs to address the environmental issues. To address these unknown environmental issues, Fulton County Center for Regional Growth recently received a $300,000 EPA Brownfield Assessment grant to establish a Brownfields Program that will identify, assess, investigate, complete community outreach, and create conceptual site reuse plans as detailed below.
Let us be clear, it is not easy, and it takes tireless doggedness to obtain the funding and align the community’s vision to make it happen. The key to success is that communities must have a desire to make improvements and a clear plan that includes sites they wish to address, potential funding sources, potential future site uses and community support.
Assessing and remediating a brownfield site leads to new development opportunities, which enhances neighborhood property values and increases the municipal tax base.
Redeveloped properties may also create more walkable communities, helping residents who might not have access to vehicles have safer access to schools, hospitals, and grocery stores. An additional benefit is the ability for a municipality to generate funds through an increase in local taxes. This growth and renewal can create jobs. Two recent studies indicated cleaning up brownfield sites can lead to a 5-15 percent increase in value of properties located 1.29 miles from a site.