Everyone agrees that restoring brownfields to productive use holds promise for economic growth, but it’s nearly impossible for Connecticut developers and communities to get redevelopment projects off the ground. Dozens of statutes, multi-agency involvement and an ultra-complex liability scheme all contribute to Connecticut lagging behind other states in brownfield redevelopment.

For example, it is nearly impossible for insurance underwriters or experienced environmental attorneys to reasonably evaluate the risk to a municipality or developer interested in cleaning up a contaminated brownfield in Connecticut and returning it to productive use.

Lawmakers have taken positive steps over the last few years to reduce the administrative and legal barriers to brownfield redevelopment in Connecticut. But the efforts haven’t been enough to drive the environmental cleanup, job-creation and other economic and social benefits associated with brownfield revitalization.

As mayor of Stamford, Gov. Malloy experienced firsthand both the promise and frustration in getting brownfields redeveloped. Now that he is governor, there  is an important and significant opportunity to launch a streamlined, stand-alone, brownfield-focused redevelopment program.

Such a program could clear the way for economic investment, environmental cleanup and responsible growth throughout Connecticut--most especially in our urban centers where hundreds of such sites are currently waiting for a bold shift in how government views these neglected properties.

The governor’s transition team working group on environmental issues is recommending several important concepts that call for a new regulatory system for brownfields. A new working group established by the legislature is also working on the issue. And a team of brownfield experts is drafting a specific legislative proposal to be shared with these groups, the governor and the legislature in the hopes that a concrete proposal can be deliberated by the legislature early in this session. 

Through a public hearing on the legislation, all stakeholders can offer their views of the initial proposal with plenty of time for refinements long before the end of the legislative session in June.

CBIA urges the governor and the legislature to make clearing the path to brownfield redevelopment in Connecticut a priority for this legislative session.  Our municipalities, our environment, our urban communities and our economy are waiting.

For more information on brownfields and efforts to stimulate investment in their redevelopment, contact Eric Brown at eric.brown@cbia.com or at 860.244.1926.