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02/19/2020 09:15 AM
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
https://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/Legis/CSM/showMemoPublic.cfm?chamber=H&SPick=20190&cosponId=30189
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House of Representatives
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session

MEMORANDUM

Posted: August 29, 2019 03:02 PM
From: Representative Austin A. Davis
To: All House members
Subject: Environmental liability exemption for land banks
 
Land banks are governmental entities that specialize in the conversion of vacant, abandoned, and foreclosed properties into productive use. Local municipalities may establish land banks pursuant to Act 153 of 2012 (Land Bank Act). Under the act, the governing body of certain municipalities may establish a land bank through ordinance, which may then acquire and direct the redevelopment of local property to the benefit of the local community.

Land banks may acquire properties that require remediation as part of the redevelopment effort. As a result of its acquisition, a land bank becomes an owner of a property and, potentially, a “responsible person”, as defined under the Land Recycling and Environmental Remediation Standards Act (Act 2 of 1995), that may be subject to enforcement action by the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). Act 2 is Pennsylvania’s brownfields law. It seeks to encourage responsible persons to voluntarily clean up brownfields sites and offers a broad release of liability to those who meet the regulatory standards.

To incentivize the funding of environmental remediation of brownfields sites, the Economic Development Agency, Fiduciary and Lender Environmental Liability Protection Act (Act 3 of 1995) exempts certain entities from liability to the DEP, if they do not contribute to or exacerbate contamination at the property. Economic development agencies are exempt from liability under Act 3. The term “economic development agencies” includes redevelopment authorities, municipal authorities and other government and community-based entities that acquire property.

My legislation would grant the same protections to land banks that are presently given to redevelopment authorities when they are dealing with brownfields. As we all know, there are numerous former industrial or commercial sites such as gas stations, dry cleaners, junkyards and landfills throughout the state where the future use is clouded by environmental concerns. This change in law would allow land banks to own these properties and develop a re-use plan for them without worrying that it would have to take on the liability of enforcement action from the DEP.

Please join me in co-sponsoring this legislation which will save land banks significant time and money in their efforts to create vibrant communities through the reuse of problem properties in our cities and towns.

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Introduced as HB1737