The passing of Ohio’s new biennial budget at the end of June 2023 brought a highly welcomed renewal of the state’s successful Brownfield Remediation Program.
The program, originally implemented as part of the FY2021/2022 biennium budget, brought relief for communities across Ohio searching for funding to revitalize blighted properties.
This relief came in the form of funding for environmental site assessments and remediation. The 2023 budget, passed by the Ohio General Assembly and signed by Gov. Mike DeWine, includes $350 million for the assessment, cleanup, remediation, and revitalization of brownfields, with the funding split into $175 million per fiscal year (2023 and 2024). It is currently expected that two applications periods will occur in mid- to late 2023 and 2024. As with the original program, the funding is expected to include $1 million for each of Ohio’s 88 counties per year, with the remaining funds ($87 million per year) awarded to projects on a first-come, first-served basis.
With new funding comes programmatic changes, which will affect how communities are able to access the funding for brownfield projects. Each county is now required to define a lead applicant who will submit applications on behalf of all qualifying projects.
Lead applicants are defined as follows:
- For counties with a population of 100,000 or more, the County Land Reutilization Corp. (Land Bank) will serve as the lead applicant. The recipient of the funding may be a public entity other than the Land Bank if an Agreement between the Land Bank and the public entity is provided with the application for funding.
- For counties with a population of 100,000 or less, or counties with a population greater than 100,000 that do not have a Land Bank, the County Commission Board will recommend a lead applicant to the Ohio Department of Development (ODOD). Lead applicants may include local or county governmental entities, planning commissions, and non-profits.
By definition, a brownfield site is an abandoned, idled, or under-used industrial, commercial, or institutional property where expansion or redevelopment is complicated by known or potential releases of hazardous substances or petroleum. Assessment, cleanup, and revitalization of these types of properties are often hindered by cost, as the required environmental studies and remedial measures often exceed the financial capabilities of local governments. Redevelopment by private entities is also hindered by the financial investment needed to get the property in a position for redevelopment. The ODOD program has helped to overcome these financial hurdles for governmental and private entities alike, making brownfield properties more attractive and easier to redevelop.
During the initial application period in 2021, Civil & Environmental Consultants, Inc. (CEC) assisted with 19 program applications resulting in the award of over $7.5 million in funding to clients that included local municipalities, counties, and private corporations.
Through 2022 and 2023, CEC continued to assist these clients with implementation of the grants on brownfield projects that have included current and former industrial sites, abandoned gas stations, municipal buildings, and commercial buildings.
Renewal of this funding is certainly exciting news for the continued revitalization of brownfield properties located in Ohio communities. The $350 million in additional brownfield funding provided in the new state budget will continue revitalization efforts in Ohio, with the legislation providing a sound financial platform for future assessment and clean-up efforts. We are closely following the programmatic roll-out at ODOD and will provide updates on the application process and other program revisions as they become available.
For more information about these changes and for assistance with brownfield redevelopment in Ohio and the ODOD application process, please contact one of CEC’s Ohio Voluntary Action Program (VAP) Certified Professionals:
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