Brownfield Redevelopment Opportunities in Van Buren County Michigan

For Meeting Agendas & Minutes, scroll to the bottom of this page
Evaluation Guidelines
Preapplication Meeting Agenda
Project Application Form
Reimbursement Procedures
EPA Grant Announcement
Brownfield Information Fact Sheet
Environmental Acronyms & Definitions
EPA Grant Dashboard
Hometown Pharmacy
Brownfield Redevelopment is a term used in urban planning to describe land previously used for commercial or industrial purposes. Such land has been contaminated with hazardous waste or is feared to be so contaminated. Once cleaned up, such an area can become host to a business development. Land that is more severely contaminated and has high concentrations of hazardous waste or pollution, such as a Superfund site, does not fall under the Brownfield classification.

The Van Buren County Brownfield Redevelopment Authority stands ready to work with local communities and businesses in support of redevelopment of Brownfields throughout the County.

Michigan Brownfield Program Overview

In Michigan, Brownfield sites can be found in cities with long histories of heavy industry, large-scale manufacturing activity and also in small towns and rural areas. Brownfields are defined as properties that are contaminated referred to as "facilities", are blighted, functionally obsolete, and may include historic properties. Regardless of their classification, all Brownfield properties face economic impediments to reuse and redevelopment.

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) is the State of Michigan's economic development agency and through their Community Development Programs, offer guidance for local-government officials, prospective developers and businesses as they navigate through the Brownfield redevelopment process. Van Buren County has a Brownfield Redevelopment Authority to support and offer local guidance (see below). 

The Community Development staff at the MEDC provides administrative support for redevelopment incentives awarded by the Michigan Strategic Fund (MSF) under the Brownfield Tax Increment Financing Program (Act 381 of 1996). Brownfield TIF allows a local governmental unit to continue to receive the existing taxes on the property, capture the increased tax revenue resulting from a redevelopment project, and use that incremental tax capture to reimburse the developer to help offset the costs of environmental and non-environmental eligible activities. Under an MSF approved Work Plan or Combination Plan, projects can seek reimbursement from state and local property taxes for the non-environmental eligible activities and their costs including demolition and lead and asbestos abatement, Infrastructure improvements and site preparation may be reimbursed in the MEDC designated Core Communities of Hartford and Bangor. 

The incentives administered by the MEDC have led to increased private investment, job creation and the cleanup/improvement of the Brownfield conditions at these sites. These activities are completed throughout the state and in coordination with the Community Assistance Team (CAT), the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) and the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) Brownfield and redevelopment programs, and the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) Region 5 Brownfield Program.

Van Buren County Brownfield Redevelopment Authority (VBCBRA)

In June of 2002, the Van Buren County Board of Commissioners established a County-wide Brownfield Redevelopment Authority to assist in the revitalization of contaminated properties throughout the county. The Authority is administered by the Van Buren County Land Services Department. Brownfield project funding is made possible by the captured taxes and return of grant dollars from three previous US EPA Assessment Grant. In 2016, the Authority was awarded a fourth Assessment Grant that can be used to assess the environmental conditions on sites suspected of being impacted by petroleum products or hazardous substances. The Authority is able to use these funds to assist in the redevelopment of eligible contaminated properties for various activities including:
  • Phase I & II Environmental Site Assessments
  • Soil, Soil Gas, Groundwater Sampling & Laboratory Analysis
  • Lead & Asbestos Surveys
  • Baseline Environmental Assessments
  • Documentation of Due Care Compliance 
  • Brownfield Plans
  • Act 381 Work Plans
  • Remediation & Cleanup Planning

The Authority continues to solicit projects county-wide that require financial assistance with assessing potential environmental roadblocks or concerns. Michigan's Brownfield Redevelopment programs are some of the best in the nation - providing communities and developers of Brownfields with:
  • Liability protection (for pre-existing environmental contamination)
  • Opportunities for reimbursement of environmental expenditures
  • Opportunities for low-cost loans
  • Reimbursement of demolition and asbestos/lead abatement costs

If you are interested in learning more or have questions about available funding opportunities, please contact the VBCBRA Chair. The Brownfield Redevelopment Authority meets at 2:00 PM the 2nd Tuesday each month in the Van Buren County Records Building, 226 E. Michigan Avenue Paw Paw MI 49079. The Public is welcome; this meeting operates under the Open Meetings Act.

Brownfield Project Examples 

Former Eaton Building

Eating Building Brownfield Project
Mr. Dan DeBoer requested support from the VBCBRA for the completion of due diligence and due care activities relative to the acquisition of the former Eaton Building located at 204 West St., Lawton, Michigan.  Mr. DeBoer is currently operating two businesses out of the site and intends to acquire the building in order to keep operations in Van Buren County.  A privately funded Phase I ESA and Phase II ESA resulted in the identification of environmental impact on the site attributable to historical manufacturing operations.  Based on the preliminary Phase II ESA findings the completion of additional assessment activities was warranted to support the acquisition of the site. 

The VBCBRA authorized the use of U.S. EPA Hazardous Substances Assessment grant funds to complete supplemental Phase II ESA activities in order to further investigate the potential for unacceptable health exposures relative to the vapor intrusion/indoor air inhalation exposure pathway.  The VBCBRA additionally funded the preparation of a Baseline Environmental Assessment (BEA) and a Documentation of Due Care Compliance (DDCC) report on behalf of the purchaser in order to obtain an exemption to remedial liability for pre-existing conditions and to support a demonstration of compliance with due care obligations.  

Former Cannery Building

Cannery Building Brownfield Development Before
The building is a former cannery building that is severely blighted in the Village of Paw Paw. Located in an area of underutilized buildings and near the river and a proposed trailhead, the area is targeted for redevelopment. The property was found to be impacted by trichloroethene as a result of releases on an adjoining property. The MDEQ assisted the redevelopment project through the installation and sampling of sub-slab sampling points.  The soil vapors in one area of the building were found to exceed Nonresidential Screening Levels. The Van Buren County Brownfield Redevelopment Authority provided a loan under its local brownfield redevelopment fund (LBRF) to help fund environmental due diligence activities on behalf of the prospective purchaser – Black River Enterprises, LLC. The MDEQ provided a loan and a grant to assist with due care response activities (installation of a vapor intrusion mitigation system in the form of a sub-slab depressurizations system) and selective demolition to rehabilitate the blighted building. The Village of Paw Paw and Van Buren County approved a Brownfield Plan to use incremental taxes to reimburse the developer for certain eligible activities, including lead and asbestos abatement. The incremental taxes will also be used to repay the loans from the MDEQ and LSRRF that were used to pay for eligible activities.

To view our Brownfield Video Click Here      For Español Brownfield Click Here

Brownfield Redevelopment Authority Board:

Appointed by: Van Buren County Board of Commissioners
Members: 8 appointed members plus 1 member of the Board of Commissioners
Terms: 3 years

Brownfield Board Members:
Name Position Term Expires Community of Interest
Lisa Phillips Chairperson   Environmental industry
Jan Petersen Vice-Chair   Public at large
Larry Nielsen Secretary 6/1/2018 Local government
Ed VanderVries Treasurer 6/1/2019 Property tax administration
Cynthia Compton Member 6/1/2019 Land development
Jeffrey Klan Member 6/1/2019 Environmental industry
Kate Hosier Member 6/1/2019 City of South Haven
Jeff Mills Member 6/1/2019 Public schools
Gail Patterson-Gladney Member When changed Board of Commissioners

Support Staff:
Name Position Status
Erik Peterson Environmental Consultant Envirologic Technologies Inc.
Pamela Jackson Marketing Consultant Envirologic Technologies Inc.
Wayne Nelson Accounting/Financial Van Buren County fiscal staff

For more information contact:

Lisa Phillips, Authority Chair
Phone: (269) 624-4211
Email: Back to Top

News and Events

Brownfield News

Brownfield Redevelopment Authority - Meeting Agendas & Minutes

View all news items

Success Stories

MPI Research of Mattawan is a world leader who partners with Sponsors around the globe to develop their drug and device programs.
William U. Parfet, Chairman of MPI Research
There are 67 Associate degree/Certificate colleges and 76 Universities within 50 miles of Van Buren County.
View all Success Stories