Michigan Vision: Regulatory Reinvention
In Michigan, some are predicting a better business climate for redevelopment and regulatory closure of contaminated properties thanks to a bill Michigan Governor Rick Snyder was scheduled to sign last week. The new regulations should have a positive impact on commercial real estate development and brownfields redevelopment resulting in the creation of jobs.
A series of bills that reform Michigan's Part 213 that governs Leaking USTs, which was passed by the Michigan Legislature, will make it easier to obtain regulatory closure. A recent analysis by the Office of Regulatory Reinvention (ORR) showing 77 major changes to Michigan's Environmental regulations and 330 rules changes that were considered “overly burdensome” or obsolete are necessary, and will still protect the environment but be more business friendly.
To address the ORR recommendations, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) formed the Collaborative Stakeholders Initiative (CSI), which is a group tasked with reinventing the State's cleanup and redevelopment program.
The CSI results were released this spring. Key issues included: Brownfield Redevelopment; Due Care Obligations; technical issues related to Groundwater/Surface Water Interface; Cleanup Criteria and Rules; Vapor Intrusion; Free Product and Source Removal. One goal of CSI is to foster an improved climate of trust, cultural understanding and cooperation among stakeholders and DEQ staff.
New York: Environmental Law Expert Flying Solo
In Buffalo, Craig Slater, one of the region’s top environmental law specialists, has left Harter Secrest and Emery LLP, to form his own solo practice and to join Frontier Industrial Group of Cos. as its general counsel and vice president.
Slater said he will continue to focus on environmental law as well as land use issues. He will also be tackling legal issues connected to industrial and commercial development, federal and state environmental permitting, environmental enforcement and energy matters.
A former member of the Saperston & Day P.C—now Hiscock & Barclay LLP—Slater helped open the Buffalo office of the Rochester-based Harter Secrest and Emery in 1997. Slater also worked for the New York State Attorney General’s office as assistant attorney general for the civil branch of the Environmental Protection Agency. Slater is a board member of the Buffalo Urban Development Corp. and the Buffalo Brownfields Restoration Corp.
Frontier has a sterling national reputation for its work in brownfield and other environmental-based work. The company’s partners are noted to possess a vast local real estate portfolio, including making attempts to bring a portion of the former Bethlehem Steel Corp. property back to life, as well rehabbing and restoring a century-old warehouse at 500 Seneca Street.