FLINT TWP. — Two vacant trailer parks where the concrete pads and wiring still are in place is one example of a distressed township property that could benefit from Brownfield Redevelopment, said Tracey Tucker, township economic enhancement director.
No longer just a means to clean up contaminated sites, Brownfield Redevelopment can be used for environmentally distressed, functionally obsolete and other blighted areas.
“This is an economic development tool that we can offer to developers” Tucker said, in requesting that the township board set a public hearing for its May 15 meeting on a resolution of intent to form a Brownfield Redevelopment Authority (BRA).
In the past, Brownfield Redevelopment was handled the Genesee County Land Bank, Tucker said. Butt they are no longer providing that service so local units of government have the option to provide their own.
The resolution states that it is in the public interest to establish a BRA to promote redevelopment of distressed township properties.
A public hearing is required to allow comment from citizens, taxpayers and others whose millage may be subject to capture under a brownfield plan. Tucker said that an official from the state Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) will attend the public hearing to explain how a BRA works and the advantages of having one. Janet Michaluk, brownfield coordinator for the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ)), also spoke last week to the township’s recently reactivated Economic Development Corporation. which also would likely also serve as the Brownfield Redevelopment Authority.
Michaluk gave an overview of the process to set up a BRA and the use of Tax Increment Financing as a tool for property redevelopment.
A BRA provided a municipality with the opportunity to create a brownfield financing resource, enhance local economic development capacities, and market difficult sites based on private investment incentives.
It is not a tax break for developers but rather a means to reimburse them for funds expended to rehabilitate a distressed property. Time limits and other conditions are determined on a case by case basis.
After hearing Michaluk’s presentation, the EDC unanimously voted in favor of recommending the resolution of intent to the township board.
Don Thompson, EDC chairperson, said he could not see a down side since the township stood to gain rather than lose money.
People who don’t understand how it works might perceive it as giving money to developers, Michaluk said. But a vacant property sitting idle for years is not helping a community, she said. Brownfield redevelopment brings revitalized property back onto the tax rolls, attracts developers to brownfields, avoids sprawl by reusing existing infrastructure and provides a source of repayment for Brownfield Redevelopment Loans. Only three municipalities in Genesee County have a BRA, Michaluk said. Those include Grand Blanc, Fenton and also Genesee County, which has one but does not use it, she said.