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Brownfield Development Area (BDA) Process

Since 2002, NJDEP's BDA process has been assisting municipalities with an aggressive approach toward redeveloping brownfield properties. NJDEP works with selected communities affected by multiple brownfields to design and implement remediation and reuse plans for these properties simultaneously, so that remediation and reuse can occur in a coordinated fashion. All stakeholders, including owners of contaminated properties, potentially responsible parties, developers, community groups, technical experts for the local government and residents, and residents themselves, will be invited to the table to participate in this cleanup and revitalization approach.

Several jurisdictions have recognized the need for this type of approach in urban areas, and in particular, for properties that due to location, contamination levels, or size have not yet attracted adequate private funding for remediation or private development attention. The BDA process provides a framework and resources to empower affected neighborhoods to address these difficult brownfield where additional assistance may be needed from all stakeholders, including developers, property owners and parties potentially responsible for the cleanup. It is important to note that the purpose of the BDA designation is to help reuse of these properties. Designation as a BDA will not affect or limit in any way the utilization or application of New Jersey's other brownfield or remediation programs on properties within a BDA. In addition, designation as a BDA does not create or impose any additional regulatory or approval requirements on properties within the BDA.

BDA Planning Step 1: Obtaining Baseline Environmental and Ownership Information on Brownfields within the BDA

The overall objective of the BDA designation is to assist the Steering Committee in developing and implementing comprehensive plans for the coordinated remediation and redevelopment of the brownfield sites within the BDA. The planning process must begin with the collection of necessary baseline environmental information, including known or suspected contamination, permitted and current land uses, any land use plans within the BDA and a characterization of properties adjacent to the BDA. This type of information is obtained during the conduct of the PA. Following the Initial Meeting, a Preliminary Assessment (PA) and, if necessary, a Site Investigation (SI), will be conducted for every brownfield site within the BDA. Depending on the circumstances, the PAs and/or SIs may be conducted by private consultants hired by the owners or operators of the brownfield properties, the developer or the municipality, or in limited instances, a PA or SI may be conducted by NJDEP staff. Under certain circumstances, Federal and/or State grants or other financial assistance may be available.

BDA Planning Step 2: Preliminary Planning Meeting

Following a review of the PA/SIs and the baseline information, NJDEP staff, state planning experts and the Steering Committee will hold a Preliminary Planning Meeting to generate ideas for remediation and reuse of the brownfield sites within the BDA. This session will be a preliminary step to developing a full plan and will focus on reuse alternatives informed by the environmental information contained in the PA/SIs, including level of cleanup required for each of the sites. The Preliminary Planning Meeting will also include a description of the regulatory process associated with various redevelopment options for these sites.

BDA Planning Step 3: Baseline Resources Identification Meeting to Identify Resources Potentially Available for Remediation and Reuse of Brownfields within the BDA

Following the Preliminary Planning Meeting, NJDEP, the Steering Committee and other involved agencies will hold a Baseline Resources Identification Meeting to identify resources available to complete the necessary investigation, remediation and reuse of brownfields within the BDA. These investigation, remediation and reuse resources will be site-specific and may include, for example, potentially responsible parties (including present and former owners) identified through the PA/SI process, or entities with expressed or potential development interest in specific parcels. If property owners, operators and other parties potentially responsible for cleanup or costs have been active participants in the process to this point, the Steering Committee may be well on its way to completing the remediation. Where potentially responsible parties have been identified, NJDEP will agree to exercise its enforcement authorities if necessary to ensure that responsible parties not impede remediation and reuse of the BDA. Additional resources may include federal, state, county or private grants and loans.

During the Baseline Resources Identification Meeting, charts will be prepared for each brownfield property specifying the resources actually or potentially available for remediation and/or reuse of that property. These charts will be expanded over time as additional resources are identified.

BDA Planning Step 4: Creation of BDA Remediation and Reuse Plan

Following the Baseline Resources Identification Meeting, the Steering Committee will develop a BDA Remediation and Reuse Plan. This Plan will reflect substantial private party and public input on a comprehensive vision for the BDA, including both brownfield and non-brownfield properties. It may rely on pre-existing planning efforts, as long as it is demonstrated that the overall BDA Remediation and Reuse Plan reflects community participation. The NJDEP Project Manager will work with the Steering Committee and any retained planner to develop a comprehensive investigation and remediation schedule that best accommodates the planned reuse, and that maximizes efficiency of remediating all identified brownfields comprehensively and with reuse plans in mind. In appropriate circumstances, NJDEP will apply innovative approaches in BDAs that suffer from ubiquitous groundwater contamination from multiple, indistinguishable sources.

BDA Planning Step 5: Creating a Path to Success: Strategic Plan Meeting and Subsequent Meetings

After completion of the BDA Remediation and Reuse Plan, NJDEP and other involved agencies will meet with the Steering Committee and its technical and/or planning advisors for a Strategic Plan Meeting to establish a "critical path" to implement the Plan. The critical path will establish site-specific timelines for remediation and marshal identified resources for implementation of the Remediation and Reuse Plan. Again, the Committee that has active participation from property owners, operators and other parties potentially responsible for cleanups or costs may be well along this path by this stage.

The Strategic Plan Meeting should include all State departments and agencies necessary to advance the Remediation and Reuse Plan. These would include, as appropriate, members of NJDEP's One Stop Permitting Program, who will identify key milestones for permitting activities associated with the reuse of each site. Staff from other relevant NJDEP areas, such as the Green Acres Program, the Land Use Regulation Program, and others will be part of the Strategic Plan Meeting.

Thereafter, on an ongoing basis, both the BDA Project Manager and staff from other key State programs will assist the Steering Committee in procuring and applying the identified resources and coordinating with other involved agencies to fully implement the BDA Remediation and Reuse Plan. Each year the progress of the BDA will be evaluated, and the MOU among NJDEP, the Steering Committee and the Municipality will be renewed only upon a showing of adequate progress.