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Vermonters Must Work Together to Revitalize Brownfields, Markowitz Says

June 23, 2011

Vermont's government, businesses and local communities must work together to redevelop the state's many brownfields, Vermont Secretary of Natural Resources Deb Markowitz told a Vermont Law School conference on June 23.Image of brownfield chimney

Markowitz addressed the "Brown to Green 2011" conference, which was intended to give developers and their professional advisors the tools for identifying, transacting and redeveloping brownfields in Vermont.

Brownfields are vacant, abandoned or substantially underused industrial sites in need of clean up from contamination.

"We're not going to accomplish this by government alone," Markowitz said. "Each of us (in the public and private sectors) needs to take responsibility. Individual contributions can make a great difference if we work together."

The secretary urged developers to first look at redeveloping brownfields, which are often located in urban areas, before turning to open green space beyond city centers.

She said the key is helping developers, real estate agents, bankers, insurers, lawyers and others to become more sophisticated in how to revitalize brownfields and for Vermont to adopt a better economic and legal infrastructure to assist them.

"Early involvement by the ANR is the key to your success," she said. "We want to be pro-active."

Markowitz said the ANR's goal is to redevelop three to five brownfields each year that are complex, high profile and crucial for local communities. Such cases will serve as models of success for further projects, she said.

Panelists included private practitioners, law school professors, government attorneys and program personnel from federal, state and regional brownfields programs. Conference sessions guided participants through the transactions and site preparation process. Emphasis was placed on the state and federal regulatory framework, practical risk management vehicles, environmental investigation, and utilization of financial and technical assistance programs.

The event was sponsored by VLS's Land Use Institute, the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources, Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation and Vermont Bar Association.


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