Ohio Launches New Brownfield Action Plan Pilot Program

This week, Ohio’s Department of Development (ODOD) announced the Brownfield Action Plan Pilot Program, an innovative new initiative aimed at helping communities impacted by multiple brownfields sites create area-wide plans to address them.

Area-wide planning is a smart growth strategy that looks at vacant and contaminated sites as a connected whole, rather than in isolation. The strategy links brownfields redevelopment goals to housing, transportation, and infrastructure goals to support comprehensive revitalization, and it can be particularly helpful for sites like abandoned gas stations that tend to be clustered in neighborhoods or along corridors. Many of these sites are too small or too distressed to be redeveloped individually, but by addressing several brownfields at once area-wide planning can make such properties more attractive to developers.

Ohio’s new program is modeled loosely on the federal Area-Wide Planning Pilot Program launched by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 2010, but its two-tiered structure was informed by feedback provided by participants at a statewide meeting that Smart Growth America worked with ODOD to convene last March. Participants at that workshop expressed strong interest in pursuing area-wide strategies for brownfields redevelopment across Ohio.

Based on that feedback, ODOD constructed the program so that it would complement nuts and bolts technical assistance around the elements of area-wide planning – from building partnerships and engaging the community, to thinking through long-term financing – with seed funding to begin implementation once the planning stage has been completed.

In addition to being crafted to meet the specific needs of Ohio communities, the program also exemplifies the growing trend of institutionalizing interagency coordination to achieve multi-disciplinary outcomes; the Brownfield Action Plan Pilot Program will combine program income from Ohio’s Brownfield Revolving Loan Fund (funded by an award from the US EPA) with federal Community Development Block Grant funds (received from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development) to target both programs’ common goals.

“We are very excited to incorporate the planning process into the state’s brownfield redevelopment strategy,” said Diane Alecusan, Urban Revitalization Specialist at ODOD. “We hope that this approach will help communities struggling with the impacts of brownfields and result in more rapid, efficient, and comprehensive revitalization of Ohio’s communities.”

Learn more about the Ohio Department of Development’s Brownfield Action Plan Pilot Program and download additional resources about brownfields redevelopment at http://www.development.ohio.gov/.