H O U S E R E S O L U T I O N
CREATING A SPECIAL HOUSE COMMISSION TO DEVELOP NECESSARY LEGISLATIVE RECOMMENDATIONS TO BE INTRODUCED IN THE JANUARY 2002 SESSION WHICH WOULD COMPLEMENT AND STRENGTHEN EXISTING BROWNFIELDS PROGRAMS AND TO INCREASE PUBLIC AWARENESS ABOUT BROWNFIELDS REMEDIATION AND REUSE
WHEREAS, Government leaders and academic institutions across the country have focused attention on the negative impact of brownfields on communities; and
WHEREAS, The term brownfields has been defined by the United States Environmental Protection Agency and others as "abandoned, idled, or underused industrial and commercial facilities where expansion or redevelopment is complicated by real or perceived environmental contamination"; and
WHEREAS, Rhode Island, as a heavily industrialized state, contains several hundred brownfields properties; and
WHEREAS, Environmental contamination on brownfields sites poses health threats to residents in surrounding neighborhoods; and
WHEREAS, Brownfields exacerbate neighborhood blight and economic stagnation; and
WHEREAS, Vacant brownfields sites encourage illegal dumping, and abandoned buildings on brownfields sites encourage vandalism and arson; and
WHEREAS, Buildings and structures within brownfields often have architectural quality and historical significance; and
WHEREAS, Many abandoned brownfields do not contribute to municipal tax bases and represent a fiscal drain for Rhode Island cities and towns, thereby reducing the municipalities' ability to provide public services and contain local property taxes; and
WHEREAS, Land is a limited resource in Rhode Island and the state is losing farmland and greenspaces to development that could otherwise occur on brownfields; and
WHEREAS, Brownfields redevelopment is a critical element of smart growth strategies; and
WHEREAS, Many brownfields are located near major labor markets, highways and centers of commerce; and
WHEREAS, Barriers including liability concerns and lack of financing have kept many brownfields idle; and
WHEREAS, There is a need to complement and strengthen the existing brownfields programs administered by the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management and to increase public awareness about brownfields remediation and reuse and to encourage and assist private interests to remediate and reuse brownfields properties in order to achieve state goals for economic development, environmental protection and restoration and health and social equity of all citizens; and
WHEREAS, A broad range of government, private business, non-profit organizations, scientific professional organizations, academic institutions and community representatives needs to be incorporated in this effort; now therefore be it
RESOLVED, That a special house commission be and the same is hereby created consisting of nineteen members to be appointed by the Speaker of the House. These members will include representatives from relevant state and federal agencies; the director of the Economic Development Corporation or his designee, the director of the Department of Environmental Management or his designee, and the director of the Environmental Protection Agency's Rhode Island program or his designee. Said commission will also include members of the business community including, a representative from a financial institution, an insurance company, a union, an environmental law firm and an environmental consulting firm. Non-profit groups that will be represented on said commission will include, Grow Smart Rhode Island, the Providence Foundation, the Rhode Island Historical Preservation and Heritage Commission, the Housing Network, the Clean Land Fund, Save the Bay, and the Rhode Island Economic Policy Council. The commission will include, a representative from the Rhode Island City and Town Managers Association and the League of Cities and Towns. The Commission will include two Members of the House of Representatives.
The purpose of said commission shall be to develop necessary legislative recommendations to be introduced in the January 2002 Session which would complement and strengthen the existing brownfields programs administered by the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management and to increase public awareness about brownfields remediation and reuse.
Forthwith upon passage of this resolution, the Speaker of the House will make the appointments. The members of the commission shall meet at the call of the Speaker and organize. A member of the House of Representatives shall serve as the chairperson. The membership of said commission shall receive no compensation for their services. Vacancies in said commission shall be filled in like manner as the original appointment.
All departments and agencies of the state and each city and town shall furnish such advice and information, documentary and otherwise, to said commission and its agents as is deemed necessary or desirable by the commission to facilitate the purposes of this resolution.
The Speaker of the House is hereby authorized and directed to provide suitable quarters for said commission.
RESOLVED, That the commission shall report its findings and recommendations to the House of Representatives on or before the start of the January 2002 session and said commission shall expire at the close of said session.