By David Southgate, October 20, 2018
Over 60 attendees from municipalities, state and federal government agencies and private sector professionals joined the NJ Brownfield Interagency Working Group at “Accelerate Land Reuse for Community Revitalization” at the Middlesex County Fire Academy on October 9, 2018. Speakers included a group of experts with redevelopment experience in legal, landscape design, remediation, municipal leadership, and development as well as representatives from federal and state agencies. Stephen Kehayes, President of SP Kehayes, LLC, and David Southgate, Senior Advisor with the Center for Creative Land Recycling moderated the morning panels.
Key takeaways included:
1. Leadership is Key: Caroline Ehrlich, Executive Director of the Woodbridge Township Redevelopment Agency, noted that leadership - vision, alignment of staff and resources, and transparency - is key to brownfield redevelopment success.
2. Importance of Defining Roles and Planning: John Scagnelli, partner at Scarinci Hollenbeck and chair of Environmental and Land Use Law Group to the New Jersey State League of Municipalities stressed the importance of good upfront legal counsel, including detailing the roles of the seller and buyer to maximize funding opportunities and mitigate liability.
3. Stay current with environmental issues: Jennifer Souder, project manager with Greener by Design, spoke about how green infrastructure planning is an integral part of redevelopment planning process. Girish Mehta, President at Prestige Environmental stressed the need for LSRP’s to be constantly on the lookout for changes to environmental requirements that could impact a property owner or potential buyer’s environmental responsibility.
4. Diversify your funding stack. Officials from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA), New Jersey’s Economic Development Authority (NJEDA), Department of the Environmental (NJDEP), Infrastructure Bank (NJIB) provided information about their programs and George Vallone, President of Hoboken Brownstone Company, provided the developer’s perspective on sources of funding and ways to mitigate risk to move projects forward in the areas of zoning, environment, construction and market.
Judy Karp, Legal Officer at New Jersey’s Infrastructure Bank, reminded attendees that brownfields sites often require municipalities and developers to address infrastructure issues in and around brownfields site, such as traditional pipes, remediation, capping, waste water treatment facility, and even land acquisition where there’s a water contamination issue. “We are a piece of the stack of financing, but we do work with other types of grants and other financing pieces,” said Karp. “It’s key that the partner municipality is on board and that you come in early to meet with us.”
Paul Ceppi. Director of Business Development at NJEDA announced a second round of the Innovation Challenge, a grant program aimed at helping municipalities to redevelop “ghost malls” and underutilized commercial properties.
Following the morning presentations, attendees met one-on-one with panelist organizations along with the NJ Department Community Affairs, NJ Department of Transportation, NJ State Council on the Arts, NJ Historic Trust, U.S. Economic Development Administration, NJ Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency and the NJ Department of State- Business Action Center
Lunch was provided by sponsors Prestige Environmental and Scarinci Hollenbeck. This program was organized by the NJ Brownfields Interagency Working Group.
Jean Hamerman | Center for Creative Land Recycling
Ask the Experts Panel
Girish Mehta | President, Prestige Environmental
John Scagnelli | Scarinci Hollenbeck LLC
Jennifer Souder | Greener by Design
Caroline Ehrlich | Executive Director, Redevelopment Agency, Woodbridge Township
Show Me the Money panel
Paul Ceppi | NJ Economic Development Authority
Judy Karp | NJ Infrastructure Bank
John Doyon | NJ Department of Environmental Protection
Schenine MItchell | U. S. Environmental Protection Agency
George Vallone | Founder, Hoboken Brownstone