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Monday, March 18,2013

EPA head coming to Lansing

To announce grants to help clean up contaminated properties

by Andy Balaskovitz
Friday, June 3 — The head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will use the City Market on Monday as the setting to announce a series of nationwide grants to clean contaminated properties and spur economic development.

Lisa Jackson, administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, will join Michigan Department of Environmental Quality Director Dan Wyant and Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero at 11:30 a.m. to announce the national grants and recognize Lansing’s brownfield tax incentive program.

An EPA press release issued this afternoon said the City Market “was revitalized with EPA investments.”

Bob Trezise, president and CEO of the Lansing Economic Development Corp., said via a text message today that the amount of EPA investment into City Market was “zero.”

“All epa money from first round that I fought very hard to hold on to due to it not being spent by the city prior to Mayor Berneros arrival was spent pwrst,” referring to redeveloping the former Ottawa Power Station.

Trezise also said that Monday’s announcement “is not just about specifics of epa money but also recognition of overall brownfield program of lansing especially immediayely (sic) surrounding their epa anchor.”

The EPA press release said grants “will help redevelop contaminated properties, boost local economies, help create jobs and improve public health in Michigan and across the nation.”

Through brownfield tax increment financing, or TIF, developers are reimbursed the costs they incur for cleaning contaminants from a site as property taxes on the site increase. Once a site has been cleaned and demolished, the amount of property taxes paid for the site increase. As the developer pays the property taxes in full, he or she is reimbursed the difference between the original property tax level and the level after remediation.

A brownfield property has been deemed contaminated, “functionally obsolete” or blighted by the municipality, the LEDC’s website says. Local projects that took advantage of the brownfield TIF include the former Ottawa Power Station, the Demmer Motor Wheel plant and the Stadium District.

For costs that aren’t eligible for reimbursement under a brownfield TIF, the developer can apply to the state Economic Development Corp. for other brownfield redevelopment incentives. Under Gov. Rick Snyder’s fiscal year 2012 budget, a pot of $100 million is set aside for various tax incentives, including brownfield projects.


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