Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Pollution to Profit

Once Polluted, Now Profitable for New Jersey Builders
Alex Tarquinio, NY Times, March 5, 2008

A decade or two ago, New Jersey’s brownfields would not have appealed to many developers, no matter how many carrots the state dangled in front of them. But in the past decade, the state has protected large swaths of relatively pristine land through statewide conservation initiatives, while also providing incentive programs for redeveloping brownfields.

“We want to encourage much more development in our urban centers, where we already have the infrastructure and transportation,” said Kenneth J. Kloo, the administrator of the brownfield program of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. The state defines brownfields as former commercial or industrial sites where the authorities know or suspect that the soil or the groundwater has been contaminated.

The Brownfield Reimbursement Program, which the state created in 1998, allows developers to recoup 75 percent of the costs they incur for the environmental cleanup of brownfields.

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Stay Classy San Diego

Nearly built-out city revamps its long-term growth plan
Lori Weisberg, San Diego Union-Tribune, March 2, 2008

With just 4 percent of its 331 square miles available for new development, San Diego faces the daunting challenge of absorbing future growth without expanding ever outward into distant suburbs.

On March 10, the City Council will be presented with a general plan of more than 360 pages that seeks to guide San Diego's evolution over the next two to three decades as its population grows as much as 25 percent from its current 1.3 million.

Eight years in the making, the plan has been the product of hundreds of public meetings and formal hearings. Among the plans's key elements are: land use and community planning, mobility, public facilities, conservation, recreation, and economic prosperity.

However, according to community activists, the proposed general plan is chock-full of well-meaning goals and principles, but in the end, they're still just platitudes. Assurances are needed that ensure public facilities and services in older neighborhoods will be paid for before new development is allowed to proceed. While city planners have long promised that a detailed financing plan would be crafted, it remains unfinished.

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