LIABILITY AND THE REDEVELOPMENT OF BROWNFIELD SITES
|D.F. Chachakis, New Jersey Institute of Technology, 42 Eugene Place, Belleville, NJ 07109||
This thesis will discuss the importance of liability imposed under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Recovery Act (CERCLA) of 1980 and its relationship to other factors that are part of the decision-making process for a developer. There are thousands of former industrial properties lying vacant in the New York/New Jersey metropolitan area, with over 17,001 in New Jersey alone. CERCLA led to the development of brownfields because developers refused to "buy into" liability for past contamination of the property.
The developer would remain liable for any contamination on the property long after the property was sold whether or not the developer contributed to the contamination. Sellers refused to sell because they were afraid contamination may be found on their site. The seller would then be responsible for cleanup costs, whether the seller was responsible or not. It is assumed in journal articles that liability is the major factor that led to the development of brownfields. This assumption is based on case studies. Case studies also exist of properties being redeveloped without regard to liability. This paper will confirm or deny whether liability is a major factor to developers. Policy developers can use the information to validate, or invalidate, current programs and suggest new ways for dealing with the brownfield issue.
I will test the following hypothesizes: first, that liability for past contamination is the top concern for developers; second, that liability protection is a top concern for developers; third, that government programs that assist the development of brownfield properties are a top concern for developers, but not as important as liability issues; fourth, that costs to conduct a project are more important than liability issues; fifth, that quality of life issues are not as important as liability issues; sixth, that location is not as important as liability issues; and seventh, that firm size and experience is more important than liability concerns when deciding to develop a brownfield location.
I will use an interview/survey technique, a Lichart Scale to rate 25 variables, and a ranking of 25 variables. My sample population is from a list of licensed developers maintained by the New Jersey Planning, Commission. I will discover the importance of liability in relation to other factors. I will then identify what public policies are working, which are not, and offer new suggestions for policy initiatives.
Key words: brownfields, liability, CERCLA
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