What is a Brownfield?

Many of our communities have properties that are abandoned or underutilized because of suspected environmental contamination from past uses. These properties are commonly referred to as “Brownfields.”

Brownfield - noun. 1. real property, the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant. 2. abandoned or underutilized property that is not being redeveloped because of fears that it may be contaminated with hazardous substances.

Environmental impacts from historic industrial operations and commercial activities have resulted in vacant and underutilized (“brownfield”) properties throughout our communities. Brownfield sites can be found in many different forms and may include derelict mills and factories, salvage yards and dump sites, former dry cleaners, old railyards and truck depots, former gas stations and other auto-related businesses, dilapidated and aging buildings, and other vacant and underutilized commercial and industrial properties.

Brownfield Site Reuse & Revitalization Program

Program Overview

In 2020, a Coalition led by Wayne County and supported by the Wayne County Regional Land Bank, Wayne Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), Towns of Arcadia and Lyons, and the Village of Newark was awarded a $600,000 Brownfield Assessment Grant by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The grant is managed by the County with support from an environmental consulting team led by Stantec Consulting Services Inc. (Stantec). The grant will fund environmental site assessment (ESA), regulated building materials (RBM) survey, site cleanup/reuse planning, and related activities at publicly- and privately-owned brownfield sites. Funding is available through September 2023.

Vision: Revitalize vacant and underutilized (“brownfield”) properties throughout Wayne County to provide benefits to the community, including job creation, increased property values, environmental restoration, and reduced health risks. 

Mission: Use EPA Brownfield Assessment Grant funding to inventory and prioritize brownfield sites for redevelopment, assess existing site conditions, and plan for cleanup and reuse of priority sites throughout our community. 

Guiding Principles:

  • Prioritize use of grant funds for sites that will attract investors and become a catalyst for new employment opportunities and a sustainable job base.
  • Promote infill development that maximizes use of existing space, infrastructure and utilities.
  • Remove redevelopment barriers by addressing unknown site conditions and creating shovel ready sites.
  • Invest in sites that will generate public and private revenue. 
  • Transform blighted areas into thriving neighborhoods.
  • Protect public health and the environment. 
  • Promote public participation and input on priority redevelopment areas and sites.


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Frequently Asked Questions

What is a brownfield? Brownfields are vacant and underutilized properties previously used for industrial or commercial activities that may have resulted in contamination from petroleum or hazardous substances but can be cleaned up and reused.

What are the benefits of brownfield redevelopment? Property owners, businesses and developers who cleanup and reuse brownfields provide benefits to themselves and their communities, including: 

  • Removing "unknowns" regarding site conditions that might hold up a sale or redevelopment. 
  • Increasing return from the property by making it more valuable and marketable. 
  • Contributing to economic prosperity and environmental restoration in the community. 
  • Making neighborhoods safer and healthier. 
  • Avoiding actions by regulatory agencies that may impose penalties and costly cleanups. 
  • Reducing the potential that adjacent properties could be impacting their property (and vice versa). 

What will grant funds be used for? Grant funding can be used to inventory, assess, and conduct cleanup/reuse planning for priority sites. Additional information is included on the Fact Sheets and Process Guide for Property Owners & Stakeholders provided in the Related Documents section.

What sites are eligible for grant funds? Sites eligible for grant funded activities include private- or public-owned properties with known or suspected contamination and properties where sale, reuse, or redevelopment is planned. Eligibility is determined on a case-by-case basis. Eligible sites may include (but are not limited to): 

  • Former manufacturing and industrial sites (e.g. shuttered mills and factories, old tank farms, etc.);
  • Vacant or underutilized warehouses and commercial facilities (e.g. aging strip malls);
  • Former gas stations and other auto-related businesses;
  • Former dry cleaners;
  • Old rail yards and truck depots;
  • Salvage yards, landfills and unpermitted dumping sites;
  • Former agricultural lands; and/or
  • Buildings with asbestos, lead paint, mold or other hazardous substances.

What are the program requirements and timeline? The program and funding is committed through September 2023. Participation is entirely voluntary and the property owner must provide site access for assessment activities. To qualify for grant funding, sites must meet certain eligibility requirements (described above). If you are interested in taking advantage of the opportunity to use grant funding on your property and are unsure whether or not it meets eligibility requirements, please contact Ora Rothfuss for additional information. 

Disclaimer: Although this project has been funded wholly or in part by the EPA, the contents of this material does not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the EPA.

  1. Brian Pincelli

    Brian Pincelli


  2. Ora Rothfuss

    Ora Rothfuss

    Agricultural Development Specialist