Coughlin Bill to Help Environmental Clean Ups Clears Assembly Panel

( (TRENTON) – A bill sponsored by Assembly Democrat Craig J. Coughlin to help local governments clean up contaminated properties was advanced Thursday by the Assembly environment panel.
The bill (A-2395) would change the order of priority for awards of financial assistance and grants by the New Jersey Economic Development Authority from the Hazardous Discharge Site Remediation Fund and would add new priority categories.
The bill provides that sites that are owned by a municipality in a brownfield development area where the developer is a public entity would be given second priority for funding, other sites in brownfield development areas would be given third priority and sites that have previously been awarded a grant or loan from the remediation fund that require additional funding would be given fourth priority.
“In the current economic environment, with towns everywhere hurting for revenue and credit all but frozen, this is not just a much-needed environmental measure, it’s an economic stimulus measure,” said Coughlin (D-Middlesex) whose 19th Legislative District includes four sites totaling nearly 1,000 acres that would qualify for funding under this bill.
The bill would change the funding priority from second to fifth priority, those sites in areas designated as Planning Area 1 (Metropolitan), Planning Area 2 (Suburban), designated centers, or areas receiving plan endorsement as designated pursuant to the “State Planning Act” and sites that the Brownfields Redevelopment Task Force determines are of immediate economic development potential.
“This is not only a quality of life issue, but an economic issue,” Coughlin said. “Redeveloped properties will put people back to work and provide a desperately needed boost to local tax bases.”
The bill was released by the Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee.