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Q: What is a brownfield?
A: Indiana defines a brownfield site as a parcel of real estate that is abandoned or inactive or may not be operated at its appropriate use and on which expansion or redevelopment is complicated because of the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, a contaminant, petroleum, or a petroleum product that poses a risk to human health or the environment. Many brownfields are obvious eyesores, while some are open fields that look pristine but may have formerly been occupied by a commercial or industrial operation that caused contamination. When fear of known or suspected contamination is hindering transfer, reuse or redevelopment of a property, the site may be considered a brownfield.
Q: Does the State of Indiana have an inventory list of the brownfields located in Indiana?
A: No, the State of Indiana does not maintain an inventory list of brownfields. The State does maintain a list of sites that have entered the Indiana Brownfields Program for financial, technical or legal of assistance. The State does not maintain a “Brownfields Inventory” because such a list of properties could be deemed to unfairly stigmatize a property by somehow negatively affecting its market value. However, if a community organization or local unit of government is interested in addressing brownfields in its community, an important first step is to identify such properties and develop such a list. This can be done by considering the definition of a brownfield and simply driving through the community, asking local neighborhood organizations for input and enlisting the help of other local governmental entities, such as the health department. The next step is to prioritize the identified brownfield sites, taking into consideration local needs and desires (e.g., as identified in a community’s comprehensive plan) and a property’s redevelopment viability. Throughout the process it is important to keep in mind that educating local citizens about brownfields and involving them in long-term planning decisions is vital.
Q: Can delinquent property taxes on a brownfield site be reduced or waived in order to facilitate redevelopment by a new property owner?
A: The Department of Local Government Finance may cancel any property taxes assessed against real property owned by a county, township, city, town or the state in a petition requesting that the department cancel the taxes is submitted by the auditor, assessor and treasurer of the county in which the real property is located (IC 6-1.1-36.7). This provision applies to any property, regardless of whether it is a brownfield site. However, there is a specific statutory provision dealing with the waiver or reduction of delinquent taxes on a brownfield property that applies to property owners as well. See IC 6-1.1-45.5. The brownfield tax reduction or waiver statute outlines a similar process for a person that owns or desires to own a brownfield to file a petition with the county auditor seeking a reduction or waiver of the delinquent tax liability. As a part of the petition that is filed, the petitioner must seek a statement from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) that the property is a brownfield. Submittal of the form found at
Q: How can my community take advantage of U.S. Environmental Protection Agency brownfields grant funding?
A: Through the Small Business Liability Relief and Brownfields Revitalization Act, the U.S. EPA offers brownfields assessment, revolving loan fund, and cleanup grants to eligible entities to address brownfield sites with hazardous and/or petroleum contamination. The application process is nationally competitive and typically begins annually in late fall. For more information about eligibility requirements, the application process, and other U.S. EPA funding, please visit www.epa.gov/brownfields. For information on the State’s involvement, contact Michele Oertel of the Indiana Brownfields Program at (317) 234-0235 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q: Who are my potential partners in a brownfields project?
A former Studebaker facility has been redeveloped into a new transfer/recycling station in South Bend, referred to as Green Tech Recycling (Green Tech). This is a great example of how thinking green for the environment can bring cost savings, new jobs, and community enrichment.
After a long industrial past, the former Studebaker Plant 8 facility sat vacant for 12 years. Mother Earth LLC (Mother Earth) then acquired the property in 2005 and invested $4 million for its demolition, remediation, and redevelopment. The Indiana Brownfields Program provided $45,123 in assessment and remediation grants to Saint Joseph County for the project, and the City of South Bend provided $67,000 in funding from a brownfield assessment grant that it received from the U.S. EPA.