Not only did the project successfully manage environmental issues associated with two landfills, but the redevelopment involved several environmental aspects including LEED certification for several commercial buildings and an affordable residential apartment complex, sustainable energy components with solar, wind, and geothermal power, preserved lands through the use of a development credit program, created a "plant and animal species management plan," and managed stormwater by using it for irrigating the landscape. Clearly, the redevelopment of the landfills alone typifies the sustainable nature of brownfield redevelopment but this project went much further with the numerous other sustainable efforts that set it apart from other applications in the environmental category.
Assistant Executive Director Redevelopment Authority of the City of Milwaukee
Please provide a brief overview of the project
Goal of Project:
To environmentally cap and close a 55 acre licensed municipal landfill, eliminate a smaller 25 acre unlicensed landfill with zero taxpayer dollars, demolish and relocate dilapidated facilities constructed on top of waste, protect rare plant and animal species, preserve 560 acres of additional land, utilize sustainable, green building practices in redeveloping the site, and pursue all available renewable energy opportunities.
Location of Site:
Stafford Township, New Jersey
Specifically, the southwest corner of the intersection of the Garden State Parkway (at Exit 63) and NJ Route 72. Located within the Regional Growth Area of the New Jersey Pinelands Region
Size of Site:
Former use of site:
The site was home to two separate landfills and a host of dilapidated, under-performing uses. Those buildings included a County Resource Building, County Recycling Transfer Station, County Road Department, County Animal Shelter, a private office building leased by County Social Services, County Composting Facility and a Township Resident Recycling Drop-off area. Prior to redevelopment Stafford Township collected approximately $10,000 in property taxes each year. In addition to the above, the site was home to illegal dumping and off-road vehicle use.
Actual End Use of Site:
At full build out Stafford Park will feature up to 650,000 square feet of retail space, 565 residential units (216 apartments, 349 single family homes), and 112 affordable apartments. The project, as defined for this application, contains nearly 400,000 square feet of retail and 112 affordable apartments units. The above development plan is required to obtain at least basic LEED Certification. To date, all retail uses have achieved at least LEED Silver Certification. That includes Target, Costco, Dickâ€™s Sporting Goods, Best Buy, PetSmart, and The Vitamin Shoppe. The affordable apartment component achieved LEED Gold Certification making it the first of its kind in the state. Each of the outdated County uses (described above) have been replaced with new, state-of-the-art facilities within Stafford Park. The capped and closed landfill at Stafford Park will create 6.5 MW of energy through the deployment of photovoltaics (solar panels). In addition, four 1.5 MW wind turbines will be erected around the landfill. Energy harnessed from these two sources will be combined with geothermal at the 216 apartments. The goal is to create a zero carbon footprint apartment community. From a fiscal standpoint, the project will contribute about $1.7 million in tax revenue to the municipality and approximately $1.5 million to the school districts at full build out.
Date of Completion:
What makes this project unique? How does it stand out among other successful brownfield redevelopment projects?
- New/Relocated County Facilities â€" August 2008
- Remediation Phase - June 18, 2009 Landfill Closure As-built certification approval
- Phase 1A Commercial (Target Store) â€" July 2008
- Phase 1B Commercial (Best Buy, Dickâ€™s Sporting Goods, PetSmart) â€" September 2008
- Phase 2 Commercial (Costco) â€" May 2008
- Phase 1B Pad (Vitamin Shoppe) â€" December 2009
- Affordable Housing Phase (112 units) â€" October 2009
Stafford Park is unique in virtually every aspect of its approvals, remediation efforts, and redevelopment. The approval process was challenging as the project is located in the Pinelands Region of New Jersey. â€œThe Pinelands National Reserve was created by Congress under the National Parks and Recreation Act of 1978. The PNR is the first National Reserve in the nation. The PNR encompasses approximately 1.1 million acres covering portions of 7 counties and all or parts of 56 municipalities. This internationally important ecological region occupies 22% of New Jerseyâ€™s land area. It is the largest area of open space on the Mid-Atlantic seaboard between Richmond and Boston and is underlain by aquifers containing 17 trillion gallons of some of the purest water in the land.â€� Stafford Park is located within the â€œregional growth areaâ€� of Pinelands. The regional growth area comprises about 7% of the Pinelands regions. Development is encouraged in regional growth areas as they are close to existing infrastructure. Development in this area also allows for the preservation of other lands through the use of Pinelands Development Credits (PDCâ€™s), a transfer of development rights program. Stafford Park is located within the Regional Growth Area and also adjacent to 17,000 acres of State Forest.
Stafford Park posed an interesting challenge to the Pinelands Commission. On one hand, there were 2 leaching landfills degrading the groundwater supply. On the other hand, the landfill and adjacent borrow areas housed rare plant and animal species. These competing interests (and related regulations) set the paved the way for a special solution. After immense debate and scrutiny, a special agreement (called a Memorandum of Agreement) was executed in August of 2006. This enabled the Pinelands Commission to deviate from their normal rules to protect rare species. They concluded that there was a greater public benefit to eliminating one landfill and capping the other than leaving the species in place. A separate â€œspecies management planâ€� was implemented thus giving consideration to both the species and the groundwater. The management plan provided for the creation (and actual construction) of additional habitat, a long term monitoring plan (tracking snakes with radio transmitters), and the purchase and preservation of 570 additional acres of land. In addition, the purchase of PDCâ€™s for Stafford Park will result in the protection of an additional 1500 acres of land.
There were also some very unique aspects of the remediation process. As stated above, there were two landfills on the property. One was a 55 acre licensed municipal landfill which ceased accepting trash in the early 1980â€™s. The second, unlicensed landfill comprised about 25 acres of construction debris. That debris was the byproduct of a Norâ€™Easter that struck Long Beach Island in the early 1960â€™s. At some point thereafter, several county facilities and roads were constructed over top of that buried debris. The landfill closure process called for the excavation of the unlicensed landfill and the capping of the licensed landfill. Debris from the unlicensed landfill was trucked over to the licensed landfill and beneficially reused to contour the licensed landfill. Certified clean fill from elsewhere on the site was backfilled into the area of the unlicensed landfill. The licensed landfill received an impermeable cap, gas venting system, and numerous other items as required by Pinelands and DEP permits.
The landfill remediation was performed at no expense to the taxpayers. Stafford Township had been under directive from DEP since the early 1980â€™s to close the landfill but lacked the funds to do so. Since the township controlled the majority of the properties, they put out an RFP for the landfill closure in exchange for the redevelopment rights to the site. Had the township undertaken the landfill closure themselves it would have resulted in an immediate 15-20% increase on property taxes for a minimum of 20 years. In addition, we assumed responsibility the first 10 years of the 30 year post-closure obligations set forth by DEP.
Since the landfill closure, the redevelopment of Stafford Park has rapidly progressed even despite the state of the economy. To accommodate the vast amount of redevelopment, the first order of business involved a $12 million infrastructure improvement to the entrance of Stafford Park. The improvement involved a completely new interchange to the Garden State Parkway, which feeds into the Stafford Park site. It also involved improvements to the site entrance off of NJ Route 72. An innovation known as the â€œEnglish Couple Systemâ€� was employed to ensure seamless through-movements in and out of the site while reducing the signals from 3 phases to 2.
The redevelopment of the former unlicensed landfill now includes Target, Best Buy, Dickâ€™s Sporting Goods, PetSmart, Vitamin Shoppe, and a tree-lined boulevard leading to Costco. All of that redevelopment on the former landfill site has achieved LEED Silver or Gold Certification. Solar panels are installed and operational atop the mid-box stores and provide clean energy to the tenants. In addition, in conjunction with the LEED initiatives, we achieve 50% of our LEED points from the sustainable sites and water efficiency categories. Stormwater management utilizes state-of-the-art Best Management Practices (BMPâ€™s) to remove a minimum of 96% of total suspended solids and other associated pollutants. All rooftop runoff is captured for use as irrigation water for landscaping. New wetlands were created for bioretention and infiltration. Existing wetlands in basins that previously treated polluted runoff now receive cleaned runoff from new bioretention BMPâ€™s. The project is designed to ultimately recharge more than the average annual infiltration from the site prior to construction (including the landfill areas). So far we have achieved a 75% diversion of construction waste for all commercial and residential construction.
Finally, Stafford Park is unique in that it involved a complex degree of cooperation between various governmental agencies. This was no easy feat when politics come in to play. Fortunately, the leaders within the municipality, county, Pinelands, and DEP saw the overwhelming benefits and potential in this redevelopment project. Stafford Park is truly the result of good policy, good planning, and public/private partnership.
What were the primary funding sources (i.e. private or public) for the project and what were the total redevelopment costs?
The project was funded with private equity. The total redevelopment costs are upwards of $100 million.
What contaminants were present on the site? Please discuss what remediation technologies were used and what the total remediation costs were.
Arsenic, Cadmium, Calcium, Iron, Lead, Sodium, Ammonia, Chlorine, Chloroform, Chromium, Manganese, Total Dissolved Solids, Zinc, Silver, Benzene.
The unlicensed landfill was completely excavated thus removing all contaminated soils. The limit of debris was certified by an engineer as was all clean fill brought back. This work was documented in two separate Remedial Action Reports which were accepted by NJDEP. Those reports, in conjunction with a Preliminary Assessment Report, led to the DEPâ€™s issuance of a Soils Only No Further Action Letter for the entire site. Monitoring wells were installed around the former unlicensed landfill area and are tested in accordance with our NJDEP Remedial Investigation Work Plan. Recent analytical results suggest and improvement in groundwater quality, presumably due to the removal of contaminated soils.
The licensed landfill was sculpted with the material from the unlicensed landfill. An impermeable cap was placed above the debris followed by layers of clean soil. Native seed mixes were employed to stabilize the surface from stormwater runoff. A passive gas vent system was installed and is tested on a quarterly basis pursuant to the approved NJDEP post-closure care plan. Similarly, a network of monitoring wells are installed and tested on a quarterly basis. Recent trends indicate that groundwater quality is improving as a result of the impermeable landfill cap.
Total remediation costs: $30million
Could you describe the use of innovative environmental solutions in the project?
Numerous environmental innovations were employed across both the remediation and redevelopment aspects of the project. From a remediation standpoint, one landfill was completely eliminated and beneficially reused in the capping and closure of the other. No truck loads of debris ever left the site. Similarly, no clean fill was imported to the site as large borrow areas of suitable, certified material already existed on site. New, state-of-the-art bioretention basins were constructed to infiltrate clean water back into the ground. These basins are designed in accordance with the BMPâ€™s and reduce up to 96% of total suspended solids. The site is planted with drought tolerant, indigenous species. Rain water is harvested from the retail rooftops and used to irrigate turf areas.
All new development on site is designed and constructed to meet LEED standards. To date, each new building has achieved LEED Silver or Gold Certification. Some features contributing to the LEED certification include: use of regional and recycled materials, high efficiency heating and cooling units, low VoC paints and adhesives, low flow water fixtures, and rooftop solar panels. Perhaps the most innovative environmental solution relates to the threatened and endangered species program. The site was home to several rare species including two types of plants, tree frogs, and snakes. Out of consideration for these species, and as required by our approvals, elaborate management plans were implemented to ensure the ongoing success and survival of these species. Specifically, the plan for plants included transplantation followed by 4 years of monitoring. The plan for frogs resulted in the creation of two artificial ponds to be used for breeding. The most elaborate plan, costing well over $1million, deals with the Northern Pine Snake. Three management fields were cleared in the state forest and artificial snake hibernacula was constructed. The study intends to prove whether or not these snakes demonstrate fidelity to their dens or if they will accept alternatives. The snakes are captured and implanted with a transmitter and tracked from April through November of every year for 7 years. An annual report is prepared in concert with NJDEP for each of the aforementioned species.
How were the environmental results identified and measured?
The environmental results were relatively easy to identify and quantify. With respect to the landfills, the environmental benefits are measured through the continuous groundwater and gas-vent testing studies. These testing procedures will continue on the licensed landfill through the year 2038. The groundwater contamination appears to have been significantly reduced due to the liner (placed on the licensed landfill) and the excavation of all buried debris (from the unlicensed landfill). Furthermore, the entire site was issued a Soils-Only No Further Action letter from NJDEP. This determination was supported by 2 Remedial Action Reports and a Preliminary Assessment Report.
The environmental results are real but somewhat harder to quantify relative to redevelopment. The stormwater management system is designed and constructed to achieve a 96% reduction in total suspended solids. The landscaping is irrigated through recycled rainwater. No wells or potable water are used for irrigation. Energy consumption is reduced by as much as 34% through building to LEED standards.
Could you describe the breadth and depth of the remediation required, and was it executed under a consent order or other legal mandate?
The breadth and depth of the remediation is pretty heavily documented in the earlier parts of this application. The remediation was executed under a legal mandate by NJDEP. Since the project falls within the Pinelands region, the Pinelands Commission also reviewed and approved all submissions related to remediation. Specifically, both NJDEP and Pinelands reviewed and approved the Major Waste Disruption Permit and the Landfill Closure and Post-Closure Permit.
What was most challenging about the project?
Aside from dealing with multiple reviewing agencies (having competing interests in protecting groundwater and rare species), the most challenging part of the project was coordinating with the County. As noted above, the County had several dilapidated but operating facilities across the site. The majority of those facilities were constructed on top of buried debris. As redeveloper we had a need to remediate these properties as fast as possible in order to commence redevelopment (and hopefully realize a return on our investment). The County had a need to keep most of their facilities (again, located on top of debris) operational while their new facilities were being constructed elsewhere on site. Though not the ideal situation, we had to perform our unlicensed landfill remediation activities around operational County facilities. Throughout the process we had to continually manage the County and try to hold them to a schedule. To say that we were delayed during the process would be an understatement. In the end it all worked out and we managed to foster a great working relationship with various County officials.
Did the project receive any loans, grants or financial assistance from any public or private organizations?
The project was financed through private equity though there is a Brownfields sales tax reimbursement program in place.
Could you describe the collaboration that occurred among multiple parties to enable the project to excel?
For a project of this scale to succeed, an extensive degree of collaboration was required. The collaboration process could also be described as an education process. We are a real estate development company and, prior to this project, had never capped and closed a landfill before, nor constructed (or even heard of ) LEED. Based on the foregoing, we were collaborating with both consultants and state agencies in an unchartered realm. The biggest learning curve or educational experience related to LEED. Internally, we needed to educate our project managers and other construction staff. Externally we needed to ensure that our engineers and architects were educated. Even harder was the collaboration required with our retail tenants. Several of them had never constructed a LEED building before. As such, each store prototype needed to be revisited and re-engineered to meet LEED standards. Bi-weekly and sometimes weekly calls were held throughout the design and construction process of each building to ensure compliance.
What type of innovative designs and energy-efficient technologies were implemented?
The most innovative designs at the project were the $12 million traffic improvement called the â€œEnglish Couple Systemâ€�, the creation of species habitat and long term monitoring plans, and the bioretention basins. All are described in greater detail above. The LEED program at Stafford Park ensures the employment of numerous energy efficient technologies. Specifically, confirmed energy savings of up to 34%, 20% recycled content for building construction (post-consumer and Â½ pre-consumer), over 20% regional materials used (extracted, processed, manufactured regionally), FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified wood, and the installation of rooftop solar panels. These are merely a sampling of items that have contributed to each phase of the project achieving at least LEED Silver Certification.
What recyclable materials were used to classify this as a 'green' development?
In addition to the recycled materials described above, several other ones were beneficially reused on the site. Concrete and asphalt were regularly recycled from building and road demolition and reused as sub-base for the new roads. Also, massive amounts of crushed glass were purchased from the Countyâ€™s onsite recycling facility and used for the gas venting layer of the licensed landfill. One material that you typically do not associate with recycling is soil. The recycling and reuse of soil on this site was probably one of the greenest components of the project. For one, the contaminated soil from the unlicensed landfill was beneficially reused to sculpt and grade the licensed landfill. Second, the void from the unlicensed landfill was filled with clean soils from on site. Third, and most importantly, all soils operations were self contained. There was no need to import any soil to the site, thus eliminating the need for hundreds, if not thousands of CO2 emitting truck trips on the road.