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"Breaking Down the Barriers: State and Federal Programs" 

By Dayton Mayor Michael R. Turner

Dayton Mayor Michael Turner spoke on a panel focused on what federal and state programs were available as a resource for local governments and developers. Panelists included various representatives of state voluntary cleanup programs as well as state and federal policy analysts.

Although the other panelists spoke of various state programs that have been moderately successful, Mayor Turner stressed that there were still too many uncertainties to make brownfields redevelopment a typical real estate transaction.

"The brownfield redevelopment deals that work include those that posed an immediate health risk, there was a motivated owner, or the site was highly desirable," Mayor Turner told the audience. "However, the properties we still have problems with are those that are orphaned properties, voluntarily dormant, or underutilized."

Mayor Turner proposed a five-point plan to encourage redevelopment. These points include:

  • expanding the definition of brownfields' to include oil, gas, asbestos, lead, or other substances that fall into different environmental regulations;

  • developing a program and provide funding for speculative development;

  • providing local governments with the ability to exercise eminent domain over brownfield sites that are to be used for economic development;

  • providing assurance to businesses on the federal level on liability relief for innocent developers and businesses who are cleaning up their properties; and

  • establishing better cooperation among all the federal agencies who have a role in brownfields redevelopment, including the potential formation of a one-stop shop, that would assist cities as they try to redevelop their brownfield sites.

Mayor Turner concluded his remarks by telling the audience that they should support HR 1300, the Land Recycling Act, which he said would be a positive step in dealing with some of the concerns of local governments and private sector developers.

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