November 7, 2017

Contact: Senator Robert Cowles: (608) 266-0484

Senate Approves Cowles/Jacque Brownfields Reform Bill

MADISON– Senator Robert Cowles (R-Green Bay) released the following statement after 2017 Senate Bill 173 was passed by the Senate on a 33-0 vote: 

“Brownfields are a huge impediment in economic development. These properties present economic, environmental, public health and social challenges to hundreds of Wisconsin communities. Local governments have prioritized turning these properties from blight into usable and taxable properties, creating jobs and increasing property values. However, our current regulatory structure too often hinders redevelopment.

“Senate Bill 173 rethinks the way we deal with brownfields. Throughout Wisconsin, we have seen examples of successful brownfields redevelopment. While these success stories are exciting, they are limited in number and there are still an estimated 10,000 brownfields sites scattered throughout the state. SB 173 will remove some of the hurdles faced by local governments and developers and will turn more blighted properties into productive developments that benefit the entire community. Today’s action by the Senate moves Wisconsin one step closer towards implementing the bill’s new regulatory structure and making these redevelopments a reality.

“I would like to thank the Brownfields Study Group and my co-author, Representative André Jacque (R-De Pere), for their work on SB 173. I hope to see the Assembly bring this bill to the floor in an upcoming session.”

Brownfields are abandoned or underused commercial or industrial properties where redevelopment is hindered by contamination. Brownfields vary in size, location, age, and past use. Some prior examples of brownfield redevelopment sites include the Leach Amphitheater in Oshkosh, Wausau on the Water restaurant and family entertainment center, and Tundra Lodge waterpark resort in Green Bay. Assembly Bill 179, which is a result of consensus recommendations from the Brownfields Study Group, makes regulatory changes to ensure that more brownfield sites are redeveloped. The bill’s provisions focus on site liability, property access for remediation, remediation tax increment financing reform, a pilot program on air permitting, and additional tools our local governments need to promote brownfields redevelopment.