Remediating and Redeveloping Brownfields in NJ

Remediating and Redeveloping Brownfields in New Jersey
A Guide for Municipalities and Community Organizations

Brownfields are found across the Garden State in urban, suburban and rural communities. Many of us drive or walk past them every day. Like many unoccupied properties, brownfields may contain deteriorating buildings with broken glass and litter, becoming unsafe places for children to congregate or an eyesore for the neighborhood. This guide will examine the activities and laws that are involved in transforming brownfields into productive neighborhood assets.

A brownfield is a property, the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant. (Note:
Brownfields are a large class of properties, not to be confused with Superfund/National Priority List sites. Superfund sites generally have more complex or dangerous contamination problems and are overseen by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA). The 220+ Superfund sites in New Jersey, in various stages of assessment, cleanup, delisting or monitoring, are listed on the EPA’s website at

Common examples of brownfield properties are former manufacturing, processing or transportation facilities, dumps, gas stations, dry cleaners, and many others. The possible or actual  contamination complicates the brownfield property owner’s ability to expand, redevelop, or reuse the site. The unknown extent of the contamination, and therefore the liability and cleanup costs, make the property unattractive to potential buyers and redevelopers.

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Hazardous Waste (Waste)

NJ has many hazardous waste sites but, clean ups are ongoing and need to be monitored regularly.  Active known and closed sites can be found here.   Many Superfund sites have been redeveloped.

The NJ DEP  Bureau of Hazardous Waste Compliance and Enforcement program ensures that hazardous waste is properly identified and collected, transported, treated and disposed of in an environmentally sound manner


Recycling (Waste)

Recycling is complicated and troublesome.  Environmental commissions can help communities to reduce waste and reliance on foreign recycling.

Every County and Municipality should have a designated recycling coordinator who is responsible for the county or municipality recycling program.  NJ has a number of laws regarding recycling.  More information about recycling in NJ can be found here.  Find your County Recycling website links.

Coastal Waterways (Water)

New Jersey’s coastal zone boundary encompasses approximately 1,800 miles of tidal coastline, including 126 miles along the Atlantic oceanfront from Sandy Hook to Cape May.  NJ’s coastal waterways can be affected by many land changes, protecting natural resources also protects the waterways.

The New Jersey’s  Coastal Management Program (NJCMP) is part of the National Coastal Zone Management Program which addresses pressing coastal issues, including sustainable and resilient coastal community planning, climate change , ocean planning, and planning for energy facilities and development.  NJCMP is a networked program comprised of many offices within the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) with the shared responsibility of managing New Jersey’s coastal resources.

Sample ordinances for protecting significant coastal habitats can be found here.

Fracking (Pollution)

Hydraulic fracturing (hydrofracking) produces fractures in rock formations (thousands of feet below the surface) by pumping large quantities of fluids at high pressure down vertical and horizontal wellbores in order to extract natural gas or oil.  The hydraulic fracturing fluid consists of water, proppant (sand, ceramic pellets) and chemical additives including volatile organic chemicals and carcinogens like benzene, methyl benzene, and formaldehyde.

Once the injection process is completed, the internal pressure of the rock formation causes fluid to return to the surface through the wellbore. This “flowback” or “produced water” may contain the injected chemicals plus naturally occurring materials such as brines, metals, radionuclides, and hydrocarbons.

Environmental hazards associated with fracking includes air pollution, ground water and surface water contamination, wastewater disposal concerns, shrinking water supplies, potential earthquakes, and habitat loss.  The Delaware River Basin Commission has proposed draft rules banning hydrofracking that have yet to be implemented.

At least three New Jersey municipalities have enacted ordinances banning fracking and dozens of NJ communities have passed resolutions opposing the dangerous consequences of hydrofracking.

Climate Change (Pollution)

Climate change is happening now and is affecting New Jersey with heavier rains, warmer temperatures, and more coastal flooding, and these trends are expected to continue through this century.  Municipalities in NJ and around the US are finding innovative ideas and programs to combat climate change by becoming more resilient.  A number of municipalities have aggressive Climate Action Plans including  Princeton, Hoboken and Trenton with Jersey City under way in developing one.  These plans can be used as models for your community.

NJDEP has developed a resource to help local governments in New Jersey understand how their communities can proactively plan for the changing climate and build resilience into their local governance.  The toolkit includes a Resilience Library of resources, case studies, templates and worksheets to help identify hazards, assess vulnerabilities, prioritize assets and develop strategies and solutions for local climate resiliency. The Resilience Library can be found here.

Under Governor Phil Murphy’s Executive Order No. 100 (2020), former Commissioner Catherine McCabe issued Administrative Order No. 1 (2020)  requiring the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to begin a regulatory reform effort to help reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) and other climate pollutant emissions while making our natural and built environments more resilient to the impacts of climate change that we cannot avoid. These reforms represent a PACT (Protecting Against Climate Threats) with the residents of New Jersey to help them to both stave off the worst impacts of climate change and adapt to the unavoidable impacts already occurring in New Jersey. Information about NJPACT can be found here.

Models Other Sources Overview (Ordinances)

ANJEC has many model ordinances from various sources to share with municipal officials as they work to protect natural resources in the community.  Selected ordinances are provided below

Electric VehicleDept Community Affairdownload
Small WindOffice of Clean Energydownload

NJ State Model Ordinances

A number of Key Environmental Model Ordinances have been developed by the State which can be adapted / adopted by your municipality and are provided below.  Some are required such as the Stormwater Management Ordinance and Tree Protection.





Electric Vehicle

Dept Community Affairs

Noise Control


Riparian / Stream Buffer




Small Wind

Office of Clean Energy

Steep Slope


Stormwater Management


Tree Protection


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