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Flagler board gets briefed on brownfields

Cobb Cole & Michael Sznapstajler were recently mentioned in an article by Aaron London at the Daytona Beach News-Journal. Read more below....

 

As community leaders search for innovative ways to attract business development and promote job creation, finding new uses for sites that may have environmental issues is an important piece of the economic development puzzle. 

So-called "brownfields" are properties that have actual or perceived environmental contamination issues and Flagler County officials are taking steps to add those properties to the inventory of available sites.

During a recent meeting of the Flagler County Economic Opportunity Advisory Council, Michael Sznapstajler, a partner with the Cobb and Cole law firm, presented an update on brownfields work currently underway.

Sznapstajler said the brownfield redevelopment process "really begins at the local level" and brownfield sites have some advantages over other properties.

"Brownfield sites actually get reviewed faster than all other projects," he said. "They have a separate set of reviewers."

Sznapstajler said the brownfields program had been around since 1997 and is "really in its infancy." He said there are between 10,000 and 15,000 brownfield sites across Florida but only 300 have formally entered the redevelopment program through the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

"In exchange for doing that, there is a certain number of incentives that become available," Sznapstajler said.

Those incentives include a loan guarantee program that offers a 50 percent loan guarantee on site rehabilitation and development and 75 percent if the property is being redeveloped for affordable housing or a health care facility.

Additional incentives include sales tax exemptions on building materials for mixed-use and affordable housing projects and up to $2,500 in tax credits for every job created as a result of the redevelopment project. Sznapstajler said.

Sznapstajler briefed EOAC members, who also serve as the county's Brownfield Advisory Board, on remediation work being done at the former Lees Impoundment property on U.S. 1 outside of Bunnell. The 4.50-acre site was used for discharging liquids from a wood treatment facility and a site assessment and remedial action plan have already been undertaken.

The brownfields program is an important part of the county's overall economic development effort, said Helga van Eckert, executive director of the Flagler County Department of Economic Opportunity.

"It allows properties to be brought back to productive use and that is an important message to send to the development community," she said.

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