Notice of Adoption of Amendments to the Brownfield Incentive Grant Program

Adopted Rules: Closed to Comments

Effective Date: 
Sunday, April 21, 2019

Statement of Basis and Purpose of Adopted Rule

The Office of Environmental Remediation (“Office” or “OER”) was established by Local Law No. 27 of 2009. Charter § 15(e)(5) authorizes its Director to develop and administer financial and other incentive programs to encourage the identification, investigation, remediation, and redevelopment of brownfields. Charter § 15(e)(18) authorizes the Director to promulgate rules to implement these provisions.

The Office administers the Brownfield Incentive Grant (“BIG”) program to support and advance brownfield projects across New York City. Previously, BIG grant awards could be reduced by costs associated with grant administration, but OER waived these costs for certain eligible projects. As originally proposed in this rulemaking, OER would extend this waiver to qualifying brownfield properties enrolled in OER’s Voluntary Cleanup Program (“VCP”). Based on internal comments, the Office will instead completely remove this administrative reduction for all BIG grants, allowing all grantees to receive the entire grant award for which they would otherwise qualify.

As indicated in the proposed rule when initially published for comment, OER has established a new method for reimbursing remedial activities through the BIG program. Developers currently apply for BIG cleanup grants by submitting documentation of itemized eligible remedial activities as work is performed. Depending on the type and number of activities performed, it may take several months to a year for OER and its grant administrator to review these submissions and release grant funds. To streamline this process, the Office has added a new, comprehensive eligible service, “Remedial action: full service.” Developers can select this new service in their grant applications and demonstrate completion of an OER-approved remedy under the VCP, instead of submitting documentation for each eligible activity. This new service will simplify applications, streamlining OER’s review and enabling OER to deliver valuable grants to projects sooner. Because a typical cleanup project reaches or exceeds its grant award cap, this new service will result in awards consistent with the current grant structure, while also incentivizing cleanup of underutilized land in New York City. Based on internal comments received after the public comment period, OER increased this new service’s reimbursable allowance from $70,000 to $85,000.

Finally, as originally proposed, the rule amendments allow for reimbursement of transportation costs associated with soil disposal. Because transportation is an integral part of the soil disposal process and separating trucking and general disposal costs in submitted invoices is administratively burdensome, OER now includes such transportation as an eligible activity.

Specifically, the amendments to the BIG rule are now as follows:

  • Eliminate administrative costs for all grants, thereby allowing grantees to receive the entire award for which they qualify (§43-1422, §43-1423(a)(2), and Schedule A).
  • Add a new eligible service titled “Remedial action: full service” intended to cover all remedial action activities (Schedule B). This amount was originally proposed to be $70,000 and has been increased to $85,000.
  • Allow for reimbursement of transportation costs associated with soil disposal as an eligible activity (Schedule B), as initially proposed.
  • Correct the maximum grant awards summarized in Schedule B.