Assemblyman Edward Braunstein, Senator Tony Avella, and Assemblyman Michael Simanowitz were joined today by Queens Community Board 7 at a press conference announcing legislation they have introduced in the State Legislature (A.5990/S.4544) that would require the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to notify any community board in New York City of any new brownfield site cleanups. A brownfield site is real property, the redevelopment or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a contaminant. Contaminants include hazardous waste and/or petroleum.
The press conference was held in front of the Waterpointe-Whitestone brownfield cleanup site. Community Board 7 has been holding committee meetings regarding this site, yet were never informed of the initial brownfield site cleanup application. As a result, they requested that Braunstein, Avella, and Simanowitz introduce legislation requiring community board notification.
Current DEC regulations require a period of public comment for a brownfield cleanup request. Adjacent property owners, nearby schools and local newspapers must also be notified.
The additional requirement of notifying local community boards within New York City would allow for notice of opportunity for public comment to be served to interested parties. Community boards hold monthly meetings where they notify the public and local civic organizations of upcoming public hearings for state and city governmental agencies. A requirement to notify local community boards, in addition to other individuals already required to be notified, would also give notice to those residing in the vicinity of the brownfield an opportunity to comment on the planned brownfield cleanup.
“Community boards are our first line of defense in protecting the quality of life in New York City. Providing board members with information about brownfield sites in their neighborhoods will ensure that the community has eyes and ears on the ground to make sure any remediation is done appropriately,” stated Assemblyman Edward C. Braunstein.
Senator Tony Avella stated, “Brownfield cleanups are significant environmental projects that can have a widespread impact on residents and the local community. Often times these brownfield cleanup projects, when finished, lead to large developments that also impact the quality of life for residents. Community boards play an important role in these land use decisions and therefore it is critical that they are also notified of any new brownfield site cleanups.”
“Alerting our local community boards and allowing sufficient time for the public to comment on brownfield cleanups is essential in keeping our neighborhoods safe from hazardous waste materials.” said Assemblyman Michael Simanowitz. “I thank my colleagues for introducing this important legislation up in Albany with me and look forward to getting it passed.”
“The Whitestone-Waterpointe brownfield cleanup is the perfect example of why this legislation is necessary. Community Board 7 is holding several meetings regarding this large project, yet they were never notified of the initial brownfield cleanup project, which obviously has an influence on their deliberations. I look forward to working with my colleagues in Albany to get this vital legislation passed,” concluded Senator Avella.