What are Brownfields?
Brownfields sites are underutilized or abandoned properties where the redevelopment or reuse is hampered by the presence or perception of hazardous contaminants. Reinvesting in these properties not only improves and protects the environment but also benefits the public by increasing local tax bases, facilitating job growth, and utilizing existing infrastructure. Within North Carolina, the Brownfields Property Reuse Act of 1997 allows the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality to create a covenant not-to-sue with prospective developers looking to reuse these properties under the North Carolina Brownfields Program. A prospective developer agrees to perform actions deemed by NCDEQ to be essential for suitable reuse of a property. This covenant, known as a Brownfields Agreement, is available only to non-causative parties who did not cause or contribute to site contamination. A brownfields agreement provides the ability for prospective developers to go to a lending institution with a defined, instead of open-ended, liability for environmental cleanup. If necessary, cleanups must achieve “Risk-based” standards which are independent to each covenant. Obtaining a Brownfields Agreement also entitles prospective developers to a 50% reduction in property taxes aggregate over 5 years or a 2.75% return on investment upon completion of qualifying redevelopment.
Duncklee & Dunham’s experience with the North Carolina Brownfields Program and on projects funded by U.S. EPA Brownfields grants has established our firm as a leader in Brownfields services. We have experience in working with regional and national clients as well as local, regional, and state-level governments. Our staff has the ability to understand brownfields transactions from not only a technical standpoint but also from land-development and regulatory perspectives. We currently oversee projects that total 800+ acres and are worth over $250 million of total investments from both private developers and local municipalities in North Carolina. These projects vary in size, history, and contamination and includes two high-value, high public-benefit properties in the North Carolina Brownfields Program’s Redevelopment Now Option.