Valdosta cleans up contaminated properties - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Valdosta cleans up contaminated properties

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By Robin Jedlicka - bio | email

VALDOSTA, GA (WALB) - Many simply consider them eyesores--  though brownfields are much more than that.

Brownfields are properties where redevelopment is hindered due to the presence of contaminants.

Anne-Marie Wolff, Planning and Zoning Administrator for the City of Valdosta says, "A lot of older properties may have remnants from previous uses.  Fertilizer plants, any type of a factory--there may be some minor contamination in the property."

Valdosta has been awarded a $400,000 grant from the Environmental Protection Agency to identify and clean-up these locations.

"$200,000 is for petroleum sites, which would be primarily abandoned gas stations.  The remaining $200,000 is for hazardous material sites," explains Wolff. 

So far, city workers have identified ten locations that qualify as brownfields, though they expect to find anywhere from 35 to 50 during their community-wide inventory.  Ridding the city of brownfields will be beneficial for many reasons.

"The benefits are really multiple from a 'growing a digest' standpoint for the community, as well as eliminating hazards and nuisances that may exist," says City Manager Larry Hanson. 

Once the properties receive a clean bill of health, the city will put them to good use, turning them into housing or commercial developments.

"We see this as a great economic development opportunity for the city, for the community, as well as private property owners," says Hanson. 

The EPA requires Valdosta to use all the grant money within 3 years, placing the revitalization of brownfields at the top of the priority list.

The funding, which came as part of the president's economic recovery plan, will transform these brownfields from impediments to opportunities.

The Environmental Protection Agency says: Brownfields are real property, the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant. Cleaning up and reinvesting in these properties protects the environment, reduces blight, and takes development pressures off greenspaces and working lands.

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