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  • 08 Jul 2015 2:28 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Thanks to Steve Jaffe, President of BCONE and the Manko Gold law firm for bringing this to the attention of BCONE members who work with and under the New Jersey Spill Act:

    In the landmark decision, Morristown Associates v. Grant Oil Co., the New Jersey Supreme Court finally resolved what many often wondered, "whether New Jersey's general six-year statute of limitations applies to a private party contribution claim to recover cleanup costs under the state's Spill Compensation and Control Act?" The answer from the Court is - a Spill Act contribution claim is not subject to any statute of limitations. The case has been under the watchful and undoubtedly anxious eye of not only the parties to the case, but many Spill Act contribution plaintiffs, potential defendants, New Jersey practitioners, the NJDEP and a host of interested amici parties preparing for the possibility that the Court would uphold the two lower court decisions - and fall in line with several federal cases that have held the general six-year statute of limitations applied to such claims. Such a result would certainly have had a greater impact than the current ruling, which maintains the status quo of how Spill Act contribution claims had historically been handled in state court, with the exception of the lower court rulings in the Morristown Associates case. In reaching its decision, the Court did not seem to struggle with the various and complex arguments presented by the parties in the case, but found support for its ruling in what it viewed as the plain language of the Spill Act, its legislative history and policy considerations.

    The Court noted that "while the contribution provision does not explicitly state that no statute of limitations applies, it does state that '[a] contribution defendant shall have only the defenses to liability available to parties pursuant to [N.J.S.A. 58:10-23.11.g (d)].'" The defenses set forth at N.J.S.A. 58:10-23.11.g (d) are limited to an act or omission caused solely by war, sabotage, or God, or a combination thereof, and do not include a statute of limitations defense. The Court concluded that by expressly listing which defenses are available to defendants, that there is "significant support for a conclusion that no statute of limitations applies" and that such a finding reflects legislative intent. The Court stated that although it does not find the language of the Spill Act to be ambiguous, its construction is "support[ed by] the longstanding view, expressed by the Legislature and adhered to by the courts, that the Spill Act is remedial legislation designed to cast a wide net over those responsible for hazardous substances and their discharge on the land and waters of this state."

    While the Court's ruling provides relief to any contribution plaintiff that might otherwise be facing a potential statute of limitations defense, there is always a chance the New Jersey State Legislature will amend the Spill Act to incorporate a specific statute of limitations. Accordingly, the Court invited the Legislature to correct it if the Court erred in its decision, stating that "[i]f the Legislature intended something other than what we perceive to be a broad approach to holding parties responsible for their role in polluting the land and waters of New Jersey, then legislative correction can fix any interpretive misunderstanding." And, it is still important to fully consider the various implications of when a Spill Act contribution claim is pursued. Aside from potential future Legislative action, there are other factors to consider in deciding whether to pursue and defend contribution claims early in the remediation process, including: the preservation of evidence; less risk that potentially responsible parties, including additional third-parties, will no longer be viable or financially able to contribute to the cleanup; the potential for buy-in and agreement on the selected remedy; and the potential for reaching a resolution outside of costly litigation.

  • 11 Jun 2015 2:34 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By LUKE MALANGA

    June 4, 2015 at 10:30 PM

    New Jersey, “The Garden State,” is home to acres of parks, farmland and reservations. The Great Swamp Wildlife Refuge and Passaic River are examples of these pristine locations. However, New Jersey is also the most densely populated state in the U.S. with overflow from New York City leading to increasing development in New Jersey such as the enormous sports complexes in the meadowlands.

    Situated in the metropolitan area, New Jersey struggles with the balance between industrial development and protecting its natural areas. One solution to this density issue in New Jersey to to look at remediating past mistakes. Former industrial or commercial sites affected by environmental contamination, known as "Brownfields," are perceived by environmental scientists as a huge issue. However, these Brownfields can and should be seen by developers and zoning committees as opportunities for rebuilding natural land.

    One Brownfield success story in New Jersey is a prime example for how future remediation should be dictated. Snyder Field Park in Berkeley Heights was once an abandoned fuel depot. in 2003, Union County and Berkeley Heights Township cooperated to purchase the property for public use for a total of $13 million.

    The park was constructed with funding from the Union County Open Space, Recreation and Historic Preservation Trust Fund, and a New Jersey Green Acres grant. Snyder Park occupies part of a 17-acre piece of land that formerly housed a plastics factory and a fuel depot. As a condition of the purchase, the previous owners (Shaw Plastics company, as well as Barry Oil Service and Duffy Fuels) cleaned up environmental hazards on the site at no cost to the public.

    The Freeholder board voted in 2005 for the PMK Group of Cranford, which specializes in environmental services, to operate the remediation of the Snyder Avenue property in Berkeley Heights. The multi-use county park opened in 2010 after remediation of the soil to remove oil and other contaminates and the construction of a multi-sport turf field (with lighting and bleachers), baseball field, playground, walking trails and parking.

    Union County Freeholder Chairman Daniel P. Sullivan, who signed the agreement to purchase the land in 2003, said, “This is one of the best projects we’ve ever done. It shows how a municipality and the county can work together. This was a fuel depot and plastics factory. It could have been high density housing….(look at) how much can be accomplished when we all work together.”

    In a Union County press release, Union County Alliance president stated, “Brownfields have become critical resources in Union County. The (New Jersey Green Acre) grant award (helped) make it possible to reclaim land for economic development.”

    New Jersey’s population density and overall lack of space for development has begun to spur desire for Brownfield remediation and redevelopment of old land. The remediation of these sites in the proper way allows for protecting local health and environment (including soil and water safety), opening up new usable land, and the economic benefit of using the land for development.

    In the case of Snyder Field Park, the taxpayers had no significant increase in costs and the surrounding area was blessed with a state-of-the-art park and sports complex. Now, rather than a site with the threat of causing environmental and health risks, the park is home to club and youth soccer teams, baseball clinics and open public use.

    Fifteen miles north of Snyder is another Brownfield with its fate still undecided. Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital in Morris Plains is home to a 673,700 square foot Kirkbride Building on 743 acres of land.

    Originally opened on Aug. 17, 1876, the hospital was home to hundreds of patients and quickly grew to accommodate thousands suffering from PTSD, schizophrenia and other psychiatric disorders. As de-institutionalization and drugs capable of relieving psychotic disorders become more prevalent, the hospital saw a huge decline in patients.

    The state-run mental institution quickly deteriorated from a sanctuary meant to promote treatment and have a curative effect into an overcrowded and underfunded insane asylum. The decision to close Greystone came about in 2000 because of concerns for the aging buildings and due to negative press it was receiving.

    Today, the entirety of the old Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital is abandoned and deteriorating. Morris County purchased approximately 300 acres of the Greystone Park Psychiatric Center property in 2001 for one dollar, with the stipulation that it would clean up asbestos and other environmental hazards on the site within its decaying buildings. When this land was sold, a law was also passed that Greystone land cannot be used for any purpose other than recreation and conservation, historic preservation or farmland preservation. 

    Many have been fighting the demolition of the building due to its historic significance. The state, however, is also determined to demolish the building and turn it into recreational space to build upon Central Park of Morris County, which surrounds the hospital. The reason the government gave for tearing Greystone down was that anything else is “economically not feasible.” 

    In addition, they claimed the building is “too far gone to save.” Before demolition begins, an environmental remediation process must be conducted, removing asbestos, lead paint and other hazardous material from the site.

     “The Christie administration is committed to converting the property to open space for the public to enjoy," Joseph Perone, communications director for state department of the treasury, said. "We discussed the (preservation) group’s concerns because we thought they were worth exploring. However, we concluded that the financial risk of preserving or rehabilitating the Kirkbride Building is insurmountable.”

    Will Needham, the vice-president of Preserve Greystone quoted Winston Churchill saying, “ ’At first we shape our buildings, and thereafter, they shape us,’ What type of legacy are we leaving behind if we bulldoze all of our historic buildings?”

    This question raises the importance of using this precious remediated land in the right way, whether that means preserving history, restoring park space, or creating residential or commercial spaces.

    The process to turn Brownfields into “goldfields” is one that is taking shape throughout New Jersey. Harrison is home to one Brownfield success story, but also many other abandoned lots and factories that pose a threat to the local environment.

    Red Bull Arena, home to Major League Soccer’s New York Red Bulls, was built on land bought by the private company Red Bull GmbH that was a Hudson County Brownfield, housing abandoned warehouses.

    “This area was a blighted, abandoned collection of warehouses on contaminated soil, which has been cleaned up," Erik Stover, former managing director of the New York Red Bulls, said. "The stadium is phase one, which will be followed by the building of useful housing and retail.”

    Stover’s comment is insightful to the aspirations of Brownfield Remediation across New Jersey; improving one site with the hope of it sparking more remediation and development action. The stadium is a cornerstone for redevelopment in the cities of New Jersey, but also a vivid example of how Brownfield Remediation can improve the environment, economy, and city life.

    New Jersey Monthly describes Harrison as the “latest hotbed for urban redevelopment” with “redevelopment plans to transform the Hudson County town’s blighted industrial section into a gentrified neighborhood.”

    The warehouses that besiege the surroundings of the shiny arena are also representative of the work that still needs to be done. The success of turning Brownfields into recreational, residential, and commercial sites has been widely examined. However, it’s important to avoid past mistakes of continuing the cycle of destroying and repairing land through profligate development.

    Instead, with these new projects, developers, city planners and environmental agencies must work together to redevelop land and create a better New Jersey. Brownfields should be seen as fields of dreams to repair mistakes of the past and create a more sustainable future.

  • 28 May 2015 3:49 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Brownfield Office webpage has been updated.  For those of you who attended the May 1st Roundtable, the presentations have been posted on the website.  Please also note the future dates for the remaining roundtable meetings and save the dates.

    http://www.nj.gov/dep/srp/brownfields/roundtables/index.html

  • 28 May 2015 3:02 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    We'd like to thank Michael Goldstein, Esq. from The Goldstein Environmental Law Firm for sending us a copy of this analysis. Several of the Training Grant Recipients are in the BCONE geographic area and we thought our members and readers would be interested in this information. Click here to download this analysis.
  • 28 May 2015 2:59 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Many communities across the country have been revitalizing their older neighborhoods, traditional downtowns, and central business districts. However, economically distressed communities have been less able to attract this kind of infill development and attain the accompanying economic, environmental, health, and quality of life benefits.

    EPA’s new report, Attracting Infill Development in Distressed Communities: 30 Strategies, can help these communities determine their readiness to pursue infill development and identify strategies to better position themselves to attract infill development.

    • It presents strategies and case studies to establish priorities, policies, and partnerships and change public perceptions, which can help make infill development more feasible.
    • It discusses innovative strategies to help finance infill development and replace aging infrastructure.
    • It includes comprehensive self-assessment questions communities can answer to determine if they are ready to pursue infill development and if particular strategies are appropriate for their context.

    Many of the strategies in this publication stem from work in Fresno, California, that was part of the Strong Cities, Strong Communities (SC2) initiative, which provides intensive technical assistance and capacity building to economically distressed cities. EPA and the state of California partnered with the city to convene a task force of experts in development finance, law, public policy, planning, and business to identify strategies to promote infill that were feasible in Fresno’s challenging economic and fiscal environment. EPA developed this publication based in part on the task force’s work.

    To download Attracting Infill Development in Distressed Communities: 30 Strategies, go to www2.epa.gov/smart-growth/attracting-infill-development-distressed-communities.

    To learn more about EPA’s work on smart growth and infill development, go to www2.epa.gov/smart-growth/smart-growth-brownfields-and-infill-development.

    You are subscribed to EPA's Smart Growth Listserv. To unsubscribe from this mailing list, click here: http://yosemite.epa.gov/opei/opeipub.nsf/Membership

    EPA's Smart Growth Listserv is maintained by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Sustainable Communities. To contact us, please e-mail smartgrowth@epa.gov. Learn more about smart growth at www.epa.gov/smartgrowth

  • 20 May 2015 11:20 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Did you attend the Innovative Private Funding for Site Redevelopment panel at BCONE’s NSCW 2015?  If you did, you heard about the EB-5 program, which offers legal immigration status in exchange for investment in redevelopment projects. If you missed the session, or you want to read more, go to the New York Times Real Estate section article from May 17, 2015 http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/17/realestate/want-a-green-card-invest-in-real-estate.html?_r=0

  • 20 Apr 2015 11:18 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The New York City Brownfield Partnership, a non-profit public-private partnership promoting the cleanup and redevelopment of brownfield sites in New York City, recently released an update of its 2014 study that analyzed the impact of the New York State Brownfield Cleanup Program (BCP) on the cleanup and redevelopment of brownfield sites in New York State.  Both the 2014 study and the update were authored by Barry F. Hersh, Clinical Associate Professor at New York University’s Schack Institute of Real Estate, with financial support from the Partnership. Click here to go to the NYC Brownfield Partnership website and learn more about the study.


  • 19 Feb 2015 4:05 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    On February 4, 2015, BCONE joined the New Jersey Society of Women Environmental Professionals (NJSWEP) to host the NJDEP Regulatory Update. The session was a big deal! It was the first time in years that the NJDEP has held the Regulatory Update with NJSWEP. The Department's expressed gratitude that the event was held at the NJDEP building and that NJDEP personnel were allowed to attend and receive the training was great news for NJSWEP and BCONE.


    The NJDEP has been busy and reported a large amount of interesting news about programs, regulations, enforcement and compliance. A summary of the event can be read by clicking on this link.  Thanks to Rick Shoyer of Advanced GeoServices for the summary. NJSWEP and BCONE look forward to putting the Regulatory Update back on their annual calendars of events.

  • 19 Jan 2015 2:06 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Historic storm exposed antiquated power grid’s vulnerability – but public funding’s not sufficient to accomplish needed modernization

    Super-storm Sandy was a wakeup call. It further exposed New Jersey’s and our country’s vulnerability to extreme weather events linked to climate change, alerting us to the hard reality that our central power grid is outdated and vulnerable.

    New Jersey, as well as other badly hit areas, turned their attention to enhancing the electric grid’s resilience. The federal government, New Jersey, and the state’s electric utilities have invested heavily in hardening the grid and promoting clean energy technologies – such as renewable energy, microgrids, and energy storage – to upgrade to a smarter, more flexible energy system that can withstand the effects of future storms and keep people safe and warm when they need it most.

    New Jersey’s resiliency efforts are impressive, but it’s become resoundingly clear that limited public funds alone will never be enough to build the state’s clean energy future. Private capital investment is key to establishing the large-scale, clean energy markets needed to ultimately save customers money, increase grid resiliency, and slash harmful pollution.

    To spur private investment, New Jersey set up an Energy Resilience Bank to finance clean energy and resiliency projects. The Energy Resilience Bank launched with $210 million of federal funds to finance resilient energy systems operating the state’s critical infrastructure, such as water and wastewater treatment facilities, hospitals and long-term care facilities.

    Financing resilience is a priority in New Jersey. In November, the Christie Administration, Environmental Defense Fund, and the New Jersey Institute of Technology hosted the Resilience Finance Symposium, bringing together over 120 public and private sector participants from across the state and country to explore innovative ways New Jersey and beyond are financing resilient energy systems.

    The New Jersey Energy Resilience Bank, the New York Green Bank, and the Connecticut Green Bank were on hand to share strategies and successes, while New Jersey companies spoke about their projects and barriers to growth. The state’s transportation authority, New Jersey Transit, discussed plans to use $410 million in federal funds to develop a microgrid, which can generate electricity on-site or nearby where it’s consumed and keep trains running in the event of a power outage.

    New Jersey’s focus on critical facility infrastructure upgrades in the wake of Sandy made perfect sense. Moving forward, however, the state should begin laying the groundwork to leverage available public funds to access private capital. This will expand the market for clean energy technologies and improve grid resilience.

    New Jersey might follow Connecticut’s lead, for instance, whose green bank was able to turn every dollar in system benefits charges (a small surcharge on customers’ electricity bills used to finance energy efficiency and clean energy programs) into three dollars of private capital. The state then used this extra funding to help finance Connecticut’s successful Commercial Property-Assessed Clean Energy (C-PACE) program, which allows business owners to pay for energy efficiency and renewable energy upgrades on their property tax bills.

    Growing momentum for private capital engagement in the clean energy sector was also evident in New York at a recent International Green Bank summit, hosted by the New York Green Bank, which brought together green bank stakeholders from around the world. The New York Green Bank recently announced its first set of deals, using $200 million of public funds to catalyze $600 million in investment from prominent Wall Street banks like Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Deutsche Bank.

    New Jersey’s Energy Resilience Bank is already off to a great start by allocating $65 million for water and wastewater treatment plants, for which the bank is accepting applications. In coming months, the Energy Resilience Bank will distribute grants and low-interest loans to help finance clean energy technologies that can operate independently from the power grid like solar power with battery storage.

    The Energy Resilience Bank could enhance its financing capacity by fully harnessing the potential of private capital, enabling it to expand its range of products and types of projects. Ideally, the bank would merely bridge the financing gap that exists due to market barriers by providing attractive interest rates or other incentives. This would allow the private sector step in and do what it does best, resulting in a self-sustaining clean-tech market with minimal support from public funds. New Jersey has taken innovative steps to address grid vulnerability and resiliency. Next on the agenda is ensuring the state has adequate resources to get the job done, and accessing private capital is the most effective way to do it.

    Mary Barber is the Environmental Defense Fund's New Jersey Director, Clean Energy.


  • 22 Dec 2014 11:56 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Brownfields Coalition of the Northeast (BCONE) is pleased to partner  with NJSWEP to host the popular keystone event:  The NJDEP Regulatory Update.

    Early registration is now open for NJSWEP and BCONE members, and is available until January 4th! This event will sell out - don't wait to sign up! Registration opens to the public Jan. 5th.  BCONE members only, use code: NJRegBCONE

    Location:

    NJDEP Public Hearing Room

    Department of Environmental Protection Headquarters

    401 E. State Street

    Trenton, New Jersey 

    Date: February 4, 2015 (Snow date - February 18, 2015)

    Time: 9:00 AM – 3:30 PM

    Cost and Registration: $25 for NJSWEP members and BCONE members; Free for NJDEP employees; $85 for non-members

    For early registration, click here.

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