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(TRENTON) – A bill sponsored by Assembly Democrats Craig J. Coughlin, Connie Wagner and Vincent Prieto to help local governments clean contaminated properties was approved Monday by the Assembly and now heads to the Governor’s desk.

The bill (A-3167) would authorize the New Jersey Economic Development Authority to provide a no-interest loan to a municipality, county or redevelopment entity for up to 25 percent of the cost of a remedial action in a Brownfield development area.

“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 loans would come from the state’s Hazardous Discharge Site Remediation Fund and be repayable over no more than 10 years.

The state has 31 sites designated as Brownfields redevelopment areas which would qualify for funding under this bill. Altogether, the sites total 3,290 acres.

“This is not only a quality of life issue, but an economic issue. If private developers can’t get access to credit and local governments can’t afford to offer tax abatements, hazardous properties will continue to remain a blight on the community. Redeveloped properties will put people back to work and provide a desperately needed boost to local tax bases,” said Wagner (D-Bergen).

“New Jersey has had a great deal of success in remediating Brownfields properties over the last several decades. But that success has largely been dependent on state and federal assistance, something this bill is mindful of,” said Prieto (D-Hudson/Bergen).

The bill was approved 74-0 by the Assembly and 38-1 by the Senate.