2018-03-08 / Columns

After four years most of fed grant unused; $250,000 still available

By Eric Carlson
Of The Enterprise staff

The Brownfield Redevelopment Authority (LCBRA) will host a luncheon and informational presentation later this month to show how developers can take advantage of federal funding earmarked for Leelanau County.

Brownfield fficials are asking those interested in attending the March 20 event to respond by Tuesday to reserve a seat for the free lunch. Those planning to attend may phone the county Planning and Community Development Office at 256-9812 or send an email to planning@co.leelanu. mi.us, by Tuesday, March 13.

Some $250,000 in federal funding is available for projects in Leelanau County.

LCBRA has received grants and loans through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to assess and help remediate contaminated or partially contaminated sites, some times known as “brownfields.” The EPA defines a brownfield as “real property, the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant.”

The State of Michigan further defines brownfield sites as “blighted, functionally obsolete or historic resources.”

The head of the county’s Brownfield Redevelopment Authority is county planning director Trudy Galla. She explained that in 2014 the county obtained $400,000 in EPA funding, of which $250,000 is currently still available to assess brownfield sites. Only about 38 percent of the funding has been used as the grant enters its fourth year.

The program expires at the end of the federal government’s current fiscal year on Sept. 30. Remaining funds must be used before then or the county will forgo access to them, she explained.

Galla said that township and village officials, developers, bankers and Realtors interested primarily in commercial development in Leelanau County may benefit from attending.

Leelanau County currently has more than 120 sites with known contamination, and there are undoubtedly countless others, Galla said. The $250,000 available can be used by property owners to evaluate the risks that site contamination might pose and develop a plan to mitigate them.

“This may be useful in supporting a pending or future sale of a contaminated property; or perhaps there are real or perceived environmental concerns that are affecting the marketability of a site,” a county news release states.

The luncheon and presentation will be held 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Community Meeting Room in the lower level of the county Government Center. Information about other potential funding sources and Brownfield projects already completed in the county will be presented.

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