2008 CPEO Brownfields List Archive

From: Lenny Siegel <lennysiegel@gmail.com>
Date: Thu, 6 Mar 2008 08:53:58 -0800 (PST)
Reply: cpeo-brownfields
Subject: [CPEO-BIF] Orchard Park, Walker, Michigan
[Note that while many people share the perspective that Brownfields 
should primarily be in urban centers, U.S. EPA's Brownfields program has 
no locational preference. - LS]

A brownfield in Walker?

Grand Rapids Press (MI)
March 5, 2008

A retail complex proposed for a Walker apple orchard would rely on tax 
incentives intended for older cities -- and should be a wake-up for 
lawmakers. The law that spawned the proposed tax breaks for the Orchard 
Park development needs revision, or else it will remain wide open to 
diversion for purposes that weren't intended.

Sporting goods retailer Cabela's hopes to anchor the 300-acre Orchard 
Park at Int. 96 and Walker Avenue. The project would include a hotel, 
other retailers and apartments and townhouses.


But there's a problem. The 1996 brownfield law was created to encourage 
the redevelopment of older urban centers. Contaminated sites require 
companies to pay more for pollution clean-up. The law sought to offset 
those costs, revitalize cities and keep suburban and rural green space 
from needless development. Grand Rapids has nearly 60 brownfield sites 
that might today sit derelict and dirty but for this statute.

However, using the law to build on an apple orchard in a suburb directly 
contradicts that original purpose. Developers argue that the orchard 
deserves brownfield designation because it contains arsenic and other 
contaminants from years of farming. Still, does the cost of tackling 
that problem justify the taxpayer investment?


For the entire editorial, see


Lenny Siegel
Executive Director, Center for Public Environmental Oversight
a project of the Pacific Studies Center
278-A Hope St., Mountain View, CA 94041
Voice: 650/961-8918 or 650/969-1545
Fax: 650/961-8918

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