Amy P. Wang, The National Law Review
Redevelopment of environmentally-damaged property has seen steady growth in North Carolina and nationwide.
The attraction to dense, urban communities offering work/live/play opportunities and away from suburban living has provided profitable opportunities to resurrect older, derelict buildings on properties which redevelopment is complicated by the presence of hazardous substances, pollutants or contaminants under federal and state Brownfields programs. Under the North Carolina Brownfields Program, properties with soil and groundwater contamination can be redeveloped without full cleanup of the property if certain site-specific land use restrictions and other measures to protect facility inhabitants and the public are implemented. Brownfields properties can offer a less expensive way to relocate or grow while also satisfying consumer demand for sustainable development practices and craft communities.
Brownfields projects have long provided win-win opportunities for prospective developers and communities. The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 ("CERCLA"), commonly known as "Superfund," imposes strict, joint and several cleanup liability on owners and operators of property contaminated by hazardous substances. However, different levels of protection from such liability have become available over the years through statutory revisions, like the Brownfields Revitalization and Environmental Restoration Act of 2002 signed by President George H.W. Bush, by creating exceptions to environmental cleanup liability.