Brownfield MOA With MACOG Extended 3 Years By County

Matt Sandy, the Area Plan assistant planner who will be taking over as director with Dan Richards’ upcoming retirement, presented a memorandum of agreement (MOA) and a community rating system recertification to the County Commissioners on Tuesday.

The MOA, he said, was with Michiana Area Council of Governments “on the brownfield.” In planning, brownfield land is any previously developed land that is not currently in use. It might be contaminated, but it is not required to refer for area as brownfield.

“Ultimately, for the last couple of years, we have been in as part of the brownfield coalition with MACOG. What that is, is taking those areas, looking at different sites that could be redeveloped using brownfield money, essentially, through IDEM grants, whatnot,” Sandy said. “The city has utilized it ultimately most, but for us … for the city to benefit off it, us as a county needs to be a participant of that program. We sat in on the meetings and we’ve actually identified sites in the county that could be eligible, but developers have to be willing to do it.”

Surrounding counties also participate in the program, which Sandy said is a good program.

“We’re looking at a new memorandum because the new funding source and grant timeline has come around,” he said.

Leah Thill, senior environmental planner with MACOG, said MACOG just got an additional $500,000 after its initial $600,000 grant from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

“But the important thing here is that no match is required, so it’s a 100% levy that we have at our disposal and the working local government staff like Matt help us make decisions on the best use of that for your communities,” she said. “And the purpose of the memorandum between all four of the MACOG member counties is that this funding can be spent not only in incorporated areas like the city of Warsaw, but (also) unincorporated areas, small towns.”

Thill said they spent money on two sites in Syracuse, including the elementary school which was redeveloped into housing and the golf course. Another approximate $100,000 was spent in the city of Warsaw on the Arnolt and Gatke properties “to help move those forward.” MACOG also assisted Warsaw in securing a $500,000 grant in federal money to clean up the properties for more housing.

She said 30% of site-specific money was spent in Kosciusko County, twice that of what was spent in St. Joseph County.

The agreement is for three years and was approved unanimously by the Commissioners.

Commissioner Cary Groninger, who attends the MACOG meetings, said Thill and MACOG continue to find funding for these kind of projects “because there are properties around our community that, without this brownfield funding, they would never get developed so it’s important we have these funds available to be able to make these projects a reality and be developed by developers.”

Next, Sandy said the county has gotten to its five-year recertification process “for a side program of the flood program that we participate in. This is a voluntary program through the community rating system. Basically, what this is, is the side program that allows us, through activities we do, to get a discounted rate for anyone who carries flood insurance in the county.”

Activities may include community outreach, record keeping, having a multi-hazard mitigation plan and flooding signs.

Sandy said there’s no regulatory aspect tied to it. “This is solely on those activities that we’re doing to help our community get those discounts on those policies,” he said.

The discount currently is 5%.

The Commissioners approved the request.

In one final order of business, County Administrator Marsha McSherry presented the county’s Health & Wellness Committee for reappointment, which the Commissioners did. They include Rob Bishop, prosecutor’s office; Bobbi Burkhart, assessor’s office; Cheryl McGetrick, sheriff’s office; Shannon Shepherd, Purdue Extension Education, who will be the advisor to the committee; Mike Snelling, auditor’s office; and McSherry.

The next Commissioners meeting is at 9 a.m. Sept. 13.