TRENTON, NJ – Contaminated sites in the state could be on the path to quicker cleanup following the passage of the Licensed Site Professional Bill in the state house. The March 16th approval marks a second victory for the NJ Smart Growth Economic Development Coalition–a committee made up of commercial real estate professionals–which helped get the bill before legislators. Another of its measures, the Permit Extension Act of 2008, was signed into law in September of last year.

All that is needed to make the LSP bill law is Gov. Corzine’s signature, and he has expressed his support for the legislation in the past. During a NAIOP-NJ Public Policy Symposium earlier this month, Corzine said the bill would help spur redevelopment activity around brownfields and urban areas. “It may be the most important land use and development friendly initiative we have,” he said, adding the goal is to address a backlog of 20,000 sites waiting for remediation.

According to Gil Medina, a founding member of the coalition and executive managing director of Cushman & Wakefield in East Rutherford, the governor has always been a strong advocate of the bill, which permits outside parties, under the supervision of the DEP, to inspect less environmentally tainted sites for cleanup. “As a matter of fact, he had commissioned a task force–led by former DEP commissioner Chris Dagget–to work with another now former DEP commissioner Lisa Jackson to review some of the things that DEP could do to make its procedures more effective and more efficient,” he says. “That task force came back with Licensed Site Professional as one of the its recommendations. So I am confident the governor will sign the bill.”

The main purpose of the LSP measure is to address the staffing shortage at DEP, Medina asserts. “Over the years, we have seen a significant reduction in force at the DEP, and the volume of work has not decreased,” he says. “It opens up resources that are available to review the sites for redevelopment. It’s a pragmatic, common-sense approach to a long-standing resource constraint issue that the DEP has been facing for a period of time.”

The bill, according to a report from NAIOP-NJ, addressed a number of industry concerns, including the elimination of the 5% surcharge on non-permanent remedies as well as giving the DEP three years in which to conduct an audit to ensure the cleanup is complete.

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