By a vote of 26-2, the Oregon Senate passed the "Brownfields Land Bank Bill" today. HB 2734 had previously passed the House with a vote of 43-15. The bill now heads to the Governor's office for signature. With the enactment of the Brownfields Land Bank Bill, local governments will have a significant new tool to assist them in redeveloping brownfields.
HB 2734 provides local governments with the authority, at their option, to establish separate municipal corporations, Land Bank Authorities (LBAs), for the purpose of purchasing, rehabilitating, redeveloping, and restoring brownfield properties. An LBA can develop priorities for the use of the property it acquires (e.g., industrial, residential, mixed-use, low income housing and open space). Moreover, LBAs can acquire multiple brownfields with an eye to aggregating the properties into more developable parcels.
Under HB 2734, LBAs are not liable to the State or other parties for contaminants (including oil) present at the property at the time of acquisition. As an additional incentive, LBAs are exempt from both property tax and income tax on their assets while they own them. LBAs have the ability to use a wide variety of mechanisms to fund their activities, including entering into public/private partnerships. Used properly, this tool should increase the pace of brownfield redevelopment, which will improve the health of the residents in the area, increase jobs, increase tax proceeds, remove blight, and improve local property values. An article with more details about the Brownfields Land Bank Bill can be found here.
For additional information on HB 2734 and the potential impact of the bill, please contact our Environmental & Natural Resources practice group.