N.J. brownfields reclamation program stalls

    The “brownfields” program that helps New Jersey towns and developers clean up contaminated properties has run out of money.

    State officials say they won’t consider any new applications for brownfields funds until they can process $71 million worth of projects still awaiting approval.

    Economic Development Authority CEO Caren Franzini said changes may be needed to save the program.

    “How can we get some of these same projects going?” said Franzini, who said the financing structure may need to be revamped.

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    “We have a lot of it as grants. Maybe they should be loans. We’re looking at a whole panoply of different options because I think we have to,” she said. “There are limited funds, and when you have limited funds you have to be more creative.”

    Environmental groups are concerned that delays in cleaning up those contaminated sites will allow more pollution to get into surrounding neighborhoods.

    “A delay means more pollution,” said Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “It means that stuff that’s buried on these sites leaks into groundwater or moves in plumes into the neighborhood around them. So it’s a very serious problem.”

    State officials are considering possible changes to save the program that was intended to help reduce environmental harm and get those properties back on the tax rolls.

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