MONCKS CORNER, S.C. – (Thursday, September 15, 2022) – At its meeting on Monday, September 12, 2022, Berkeley County Council approved a $500,000 EPA Brownfields Assessment grant to help fund a large-scale revitalization initiative to greatly improve quality of life opportunities in the St. Stephen/Russellville area. Watch the full Council meeting HERE.
This grant, part of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Brownfields Community Wide Assessment Grant Program, will help fund environmental assessments on properties located within a certain designated Census Tract in the St. Stephen area. With the help of community and residential input, the Town of St. Stephen—together with the EPA and Berkeley County Economic Development—will conduct up to 15 site inventories of brownfield sites, in the St. Stephen area, that could be redeveloped to provide more job opportunities and other quality of life resources for the community.
The grant has already identified two such sites: the former St. Stephen High School, which closed in 1996, and the area’s former Lumber Mill, which operated as a steam-powered lumber mill from the 1930s to mid-1960s and closed around 1970. Another goal of this large-scale initiative will be to develop a complete revitalization plan unique to St. Stephen. <Read More>
Brownfields are properties that are or may be contaminated with hazardous substances, pollutants, petroleum or other contaminants that pose a barrier to productive reuse. Brownfields often are in struggling neighborhoods and areas with blight, deteriorated infrastructure, or other challenges. Brownfields may include public or private properties, green spaces, or parks in need of preservation.
Brownfield properties can have either real or perceived contamination, and some may need remediation due to the presence of a contaminant. The positive impact of brownfield grant funding for a community, of any size, can be significant. By taking unused or blighted properties and transforming them into new business opportunities, housing, or recreational areas, communities become renewed.
Revitalizing brownfields provides new economic and social benefits to communities, in addition to improving environmental conditions. Reusing stagnant brownfield sites requires special attention. In communities with weak economic or market conditions, socioeconomic barriers, or other challenges, brownfields can remain idle for years. Still, a local community can take several actions even at the most challenging sites to best position brownfields for successful reuse.
Knowledge about the environmental conditions is an important factor in setting the value for a piece of real estate—sellers want to receive a fair price, but potential purchasers may be unwilling to risk investment in properties without knowing the environmental issues. However, Environmental Site Assessments (ESAs) can cost thousands of dollars.
EPA’s program provides funding to perform environmental assessments at your property. This saves property owners the out-of-pocket assessment costs while still providing you the benefit of identifying or alleviating any concerns at your site.
Phase I ESAs consist of a records search, site history, and visual inspection of a property to identify any recognized environmental conditions (RECs).
If RECs are discovered, a Phase II ESA may be recommended, which involves field sampling of soil, groundwater or other media.
Landowners may be asked to participate by providing information on the site’s history. Qualified Environmental Professionals will also need access to the site while they conduct the assessment—this may involve visual inspections and/or field sampling.
EPA’s assessment program can help define and delineate the extent of contamination, and provide cleanup planning. Contaminated sites may be eligible for enrollment in brownfields agreements under State Voluntary Cleanup Programs, (VCPs), which are typically held to a site-specific cleanup standard based on planned future use.
EPA’s assessment program can help protect innocent landowners, contiguous property owners, and bona fide prospective purchasers from Superfund liability by using a Phase I ESA to meet the All Appropriate Inquiries (“due diligence”) requirement. You may also qualify for VCP agreements with your State that contain a covenant not-to-sue.
EPA’s program does not relieve a responsible party’s past or future site liability. However, the site may still be eligible for EPA funding that can alleviate the owner’s costs for site assessment and reuse planning.
Environmental and economic benefits
Community actions that drive brownfield redevelopment
Infrographic for grant – Terracon to provide
Equitable Development Activities
Brownfields Area-Wide Planning
Evaluation of Market Viability
Brownfield Steering Committee
Margaret Darby McGill
Appointed in EPA Grant Narrative
Small Town Restoration
St. Stephen Growth & Development
Berkeley County School District
Retired Berkeley County School District and former elected official
St. Stephen Town Council
Berkeley County Economic Development
Economic Development Director