ANNAPOLIS, MD (September 23, 1998) -- Maryland's program to clean up abandoned or underutilized industrial and commercial properties, known as brownfields, is off to a good start. In its first year, the program has received 30 applications received more than totaling 585 acres, according to a report by the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE).
The Voluntary Cleanup Program (VCP), created in February 1997 as part of Governor Parris N. Glendening's Smart Growth initiative, facilitates and encourages the cleanup and redevelopment of abandoned or underutilized industrial and commercial properties suspected of having environmental contamination problems. The program streamlines the approval process for State oversight of cleanup projects, and limits the liability for eligible purchasers of properties, as well as all participants in the program.
"I have always believed that Maryland can have both a clean environment and a vibrant economy," said Governor Glendening. "Through our Smart Growth initiative, old vacant buildings and empty lots are being transformed into attractive and productive workplaces."
Of the 30 applications received, 14 were approved as eligible, 15 are pending and one was withdrawn. Applications have been received for sites in Allegany, Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Cecil, Montgomery, Prince George's and Washington counties and Baltimore City. The largest project is the 125-acre site of the Occidental Chemical Company in Cecil County, and the smallest is the Parker Metal Decorating Company in Baltimore City, with less than an acre.
Response action plans for three of the sites have been approved. Public informational meetings on proposed response action plans will be held soon for three other sites. Four sites require no further cleanup and one site, the American Can Company property in Baltimore, received a certificate of completion for its cleanup efforts. Maryland's first year results are consistent with Voluntary Cleanup Programs in other states - Pennsylvania, Virginia and Delaware received 35, 12, and 11 applications, respectively.
MDE charges participants $6,000 for each application submitted which goes into the Voluntary Cleanup Fund. The funds cover the cost of an in-depth technical review, the response action plans assessments, and administrative oversight of remediation projects. If these costs are less than $6,000, the department refunds the unexpended balance to the applicant.
Maryland's Voluntary Cleanup Program compliments federal programs also that seek to encourage redevelopment in underutilized and economically depressed urban areas. For example, the federal government recently awarded a $200,000 grant to the City of Hagerstown to assist with the costs associated with environmental assessments of eligible properties.
The 4.2-acres American Can Company property in Baltimore's Inner Harbor area was one of the first year's sites and is now being redeveloped into a commercial/retail complex. A portion of the property is the corporate headquarters of DAP, a building material manufacturer. Other units slated for occupancy include a bookstore, restaurants and offices.