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About Salisbury's Brownfields Program

Supporting the Redevelopment of Contaminated Properties

Environmental Assessment Funding is Available Now:

Since 2014, the City of Salisbury has been a participant in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Brownfields Program. Through this partnership, the City has received targeted funding to assist owners of potentially contaminated properties in assessing environmental risks.

Uncertainty about environmental contamination is a major obstacle to the reuse and redevelopment of prime sites. As development pressures increase across Salisbury, the City aims to facilitate growth by backing necessary environmental studies of brownfield sites. By partnering with property owners in this way, the City can reduce complications posed by the presence or potential presence of hazardous substances, pollutants, and contaminants in the soil or groundwater such as petroleum products, cleaning solvents, heavy metals, and other toxic substances injurious to human and ecological health.

What Funds are Available?

In 2018, the City of Salisbury was awarded its second Community-wide Assessment Grant from the EPA, the first being awarded in 2014. Approximately $300,000 is currently available to conduct Phase I and Phase II Environmental Site Assessments (ESA’s) of Salisbury’s brownfields. Funds will be available and used until they are expended. All funds must be spent before September 30, 2021.

Are Funds Provided Directly to Property Owners?

Assessment funds are not granted directly to property owners or developers. Instead, the City has contracted with the environmental firm Cardno, which will carry out all assessment work. Once an ESA is completed and approved by the EPA, the property owner will have access to the results and may freely use the official report in any future real estate sale, financing, or redevelopment activity.

Is there a Cost to Participate?

No. All environmental assessment work is paid for by the Federal grant and is free of charge to participating property owners.

What are the Benefits?

Simply put, there is no downside to participating in Salisbury’s Brownfields Program. Given the well-documented history of Salisbury’s contaminating land uses, most financial institutions will likely require an environmental investigation to take place as a precondition of any real estate transaction of a brownfield site.

In many instances, owners of potentially contaminated sites are confronted with liability and financing challenges when they attempt to sell, finance, or redevelop such sites. Many property owners avoid initiating these assessments due to their expense and perceived complexity. When this happens, everyone loses. The community loses because sites remain vacant and underutilized. The property owner loses because they miss out on lucrative opportunities and remain burdened with potential liability issues. And the City loses because of depressed property taxes, lower job growth, and less than ideal development outcomes.

The grant provides the opportunity for property owners to have assessments completed at no cost. Assessments reduce the uncertainty associated with properties by either providing assurance no contamination exists or quantifying the risk of contamination present and the cost of mitigation to make the site suitable for its safe reuse. The program is voluntary, not regulatory; therefore, the EPA will not force property owners to remediate any contamination identified unless there is an immediate threat to human health. Defining the environmental uncertainties helps facilitate the sale and/or redevelopment of brownfield sites.

What Has Salisbury’s Brownfields Program Accomplished?

Through its 2014 Community-wide Assessment Grant, the City supported necessary environmental investigations of a variety of brownfield sites. The Empire Hotel, for example, received a Phase I and Phase II ESA, establishing a foundation for the major redevelopment planning that has since been accomplished. The Kesler Mill site in the Park Avenue Neighborhood has also received a Phase I and Phase II ESA, reducing uncertainty about the environmental hazards posed at the historic mill site. Many other sites both downtown and across Salisbury have also participated in the program.

Why are there so many Brownfields in Salisbury?

Historically, Salisbury prospered as one of the Piedmont’s major economic hubs, supporting industrial and other high-intensity activities. This prosperity was a double-edged sword, bringing with it both pollution and issues of environmental equity which were not properly acknowledged at the time.

Today, the legacy of our economic past remains in the earth we walk upon. The presence or perceived presence of environmental contamination poses a major obstacle to the reuse and redevelopment of sites across Salisbury. When property owners and financial institutions do not know if hazardous substances, pollutants, contaminants, and/or petroleum is trapped in the soil or groundwater, sites end up sitting fallow and underutilized, lowering the quality of life for the entire community.

Former Kesler Mill Brownfield Cleanup Project

In May 2020, the City of Salisbury was awarded $500,000 from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to facilitate the cleanup of environmental contaminants from the former Kesler Mill site of 423 North Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue.

Learn More

Park Avenue Housing Rehabilitation Assistance

Residents who own property located within the Eaman Park Study area (refer to map below)  may be eligible for financial assistance for exterior repairs and improvements, such as painting, roofing, porches, foundations, doors and windows, minor landscaping, and similar improvements.

  • If the property is your primary residence: You may be eligible for assistance up to $20,000 for exterior repairs.
  • If the property is a rental property with no more than 4 units: You may be eligible for assistance up to $5,000 for exterior repairs. For rental property repairs, owners are required to contribute a 50% match (up to $5,000), bringing the maximum project cost to $10,000.

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