Tuesday , 24 April 2018

City Educates Public on EPA’s Free Contaminant Check for Homeowners

By Angie Bado, TSB Publisher

A small group of residents gathered at McKinney’s city hall on Tuesday evening to learn more about the city’s Brownfields Program. The program, which enables property owners access to free property assessments, was established in 2010 when the city was chosen by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to receive a Brownfields Assessment Grant totaling $400,000. 

The goal of the program is to assist with revitalization of properties where there is a risk of a presence, or potential presence, of a hazardous substance or contaminant.  

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines a brownfield as “a piece of property whose expansion, redevelopment or reuse may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of hazardous substances, pollutants, contaminants, controlled substances, or petroleum or petroleum products.”

Properties in parts of McKinney’s historic Town Center may be the most likely targets for assessment, based on the fact that this is the oldest section of McKinney and historically was populated with commercial and industrial buildings. These areas include those bounded by U.S. 380 to the north, Industrial Boulevard to the south, Airport Dr. to the east and College Street on the west,. Over the years, contaminants may have been left in pipes, barrels or underground tanks, which may leach into the soil or groundwater. Older properties may also show signs of hazardous substances such as asbestos or lead-based paint.  

To begin the process, property owners contact the city applying for a free site assessment, or Phase I. Free assessments using the Brownfields grant funds are available for private projects, city projects and non-profit projects and can be used for testing soil, groundwater, building materials and for testing for petroleum, solvents, asbestos, chemicals and other pollutants. 

Phase I of the environmental site assessment includes a review of the property’s history, property owner interviews, a site visit, open discussion between the property owner and the Brownfields Program team and a final report, which may conclude that no “recognized environmental conditions” exist, or that further investigation is recommended. 

If further study of a property is suggested, Phase II would be initiated. Phase II entails more site assessment studies after which the results will be analyzed and a suggested course of action will be planed in conjunction with the property owner and Brownfields team members. A plan to address the results of the assessment will be developed and property owners may decide how to proceed. 

Affording the city and its residents and property owners the opportunity to recycle and reuse properties through the Brownfields Program is set to benefit McKinney by increasing the economic vitality of the community while increasing the local tax base and facilitating job growth. The program is also in alignment with the the City’s vision for historic McKinney through the Town Center Master Plan, which is a planning and design process intended to promote and encourage the revitalization of the older sections of McKinney.

City Planning Manager Ross Altobelli said that the Brownfields program will continue for about a year under the current grant, but the city is working to extend the program since funds are still available.

“It’s free money for residents and property owners to use,” Altobelli said, describing the program. “I highly recommend it and if there are any questions, or anything the city can do, please contact us.”

The city has recently submitted a grant request for $1 million through the U.S. EPA for funds that can be used for cleanup purposes. If granted, these funds could be used by the city to offer a variety of loan programs to residents at no interest or low interest.

For more information contact Arrie Mitchell, Planner at 972-547-7403.

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