Ohio Brownfields Assessment & Cleanup:
$350 Million Dedicated for 2023 and 2024 Rounds
The Ohio Brownfield Remediation Fund will receive $350 million over the next two years as established in the budget bill recently signed by Governor DeWine. In both fiscal years 2024 and 2025, $175 million is allocated to the program. Each year’s program will have $1 million set aside with no required match for each of the 88 counties and $87 million will be available for grants statewide that will require a 25% match. Applications submitted as part of the statewide competition will be considered on a first-come, first-served basis.
What Sites Are Eligible?
Brownfield projects could include old schools, former warehouses, closed factories, or abandoned or underutilized commercial properties, among others. The state’s definition of a brownfield “is an abandoned, idled, or under-used industrial, commercial, or institutional property where expansion or redevelopment is complicated by known or potential releases of hazardous substances or petroleum.”
What Are Eligible Grant and Match-Funded Activities?
The Ohio Department of Development will administer the program and is charged with establishing policies and guidelines. While many details have yet to be finalized and shared by the state, the previous state program offers a good starting point. That program funded up to $300,000 for Phase I and II assessments to help determine current environmental conditions on the property and up to $10 million for cleanup (including acquisition [up to 10% of grant], remediation, demolition [as long as the building contained asbestos or needed to be removed to get to the contamination], and infrastructure improvements [installation or upgrade of the minimum amount of infrastructure necessary to make the brownfield operational]). Eligible match-funded activities were assessments, environmental insurance, acquisition, remediation, demolition, and on-property infrastructure improvements. Matching funds could come from any source other than the Remediation Fund and expenses could be incurred two-years prior to the date of application submittal and anytime within the grant project period.
Who Can Apply?
This program requires that each county has a lead applicant that will apply for the funds and have the grant agreement with ODOD. The lead entity will be determined as follows:
- Counties with population less than 100,000: Board of County Commissioners recommends lead entity
- Counties with population over 100,000 without a Land Bank: Board of County Commissioners recommends lead entity
- Counties with population over 100,000 with a Land Bank: Land Bank is lead entity
Other recipients can receive grant money under agreements through the lead entity. The budget language states that “recipients may include local governments, nonprofit organizations, community development corporations, regional planning commissions, county land banks, community action agencies.” The role of the private sector in this program is yet to be determined. If they are not named as an eligible recipient in ODOD’s guidance, there could be the possibility of the private sector owner/developer establishing an agreement with an eligible recipient that would pursue the funds.
Get Ready Now!
The state will begin accepting proposals for the first round of applications before the end of the year and the application portal could open as soon as this fall. We anticipate that applications for the 2024 program will begin to be accepted on July 1, 2024. The program is set up in the legislation again as first-come, first-served for the statewide competition funds and we expect a high demand for these dollars. To pursue an assessment grant, we suggest completing a Phase I assessment now that will lead to the preparation of a Phase II Work Plan that will be necessary to properly scope the grant-funded work required for the application. To pursue a cleanup grant, requirements include a Phase I assessment, Phase II assessment, Remedial Action Plan, and Cost Estimate for the proposed remedial action and any infrastructure improvements. Note that the property cannot remain in ownership of the person/organization that caused or contributed to the contamination of the property by the time the cleanup work begins, so site acquisition or a purchase agreement need to be planned/prepared.
We Can Help!
This is a great opportunity to address brownfields in your community! Contact us for assistance. Please let us know if we can help your team contemplate potential projects, prepare the required technical documents in compliance with the Ohio Voluntary Action Program, and help prepare the anticipated general application components.
Our Ohio Brownfields Experts
Jenny Carter-Cornell, APR
Jenny is a leader in the funding practice that has helped clients receive more than $400 million in grants and low-interest loans. She served as the lead grant writer to help secure over $150 million for clients and has 29 years of experience working with a variety of brownfields and other environmental and economic development issues. Jenny holds a BS in Journalism with a specialization in Public Relations and a minor in Environmental Studies from Bowling Green State University.
Steven Gross, VAP CP, CPG
Steven has over 30 years of experience managing and implementing hundreds of site assessments and remediation projects. He is an Ohio Voluntary Action Program Certified Professional. Steven has a BS in Geology & Mineralogy from The Ohio State University.
Lindsay Crow is a Senior Project Manager and environmental scientist who regularly works with sites regulated by the Resource Conservation Recovery Act, Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, Ohio Voluntary Action Program, Indiana Voluntary Remediation Program, Bureau of Underground Storage Tank Regulations, and other state-specific programs.
For questions about brownfields or any environmental remediation project, please contact us. We're here to help.
Verdantas experts were pioneers with the Ohio Voluntary Action Program and the previous state brownfield funding program. We have directed hundreds of VAP projects since the program’s inception. Verdantas helped our clients prepare 23 successful grant applications securing more than $76 million in Rounds 1-3 of the Ohio Brownfield Remediation Fund and 75 grants worth over $124 million through the previous state brownfield funding programs. We are committed to helping our clients address property challenges, oftentimes through transformative brownfield revitalization projects.
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