What Is A Brownfield, Exactly?

Posted by – Samantha Seimer, Director of Authorities

I bet you woke up this morning and wondered … “What exactly is a Brownfield?”  We get it.  We’re here to help explain.

A Brownfield is a property in which redevelopment may be complicated by the presence of hazardous substances and pollutants.  Revitalizing and redeveloping contaminated sites helps to protect the environment, reuses existing infrastructure, and creates economic opportunities.

In 1996, the Michigan Brownfield Redevelopment Financing Act allowed municipalities to create their own Brownfield Redevelopment Authority to help facilitate the redevelopment of contaminated properties.  The City Council approved the operation of its own authority in 1998.  The City’s authority, which is overseen by a five-member resident board, reviews proposals for assistance eligibility.

The Brownfield Redevelopment Authority has been an integral part of the City’s economic development program.  It has allowed our City the ability to assist with the redevelopment of numerous underutilized and contaminated properties located throughout the community by providing financial incentives.  Specific incentive plans are developed for individual sites where the property taxes collected, after reuse, are captured from that contaminated site to pay back the land developer for his/her eligible clean up costs.  This State-approved financing model helps developers take on the extra costs and financial risk associated with such difficult properties.

The transition of the former Fons landfill into the Dutton Corporate Centre was assisted by the City’s authority

The Dutton Corporate Centre is just one of many contaminated properties the City’s authority has worked to help clean-up and redevelop over the past 20 years.