The state Department of Environmental Conservation announced Tuesday that it has completed an agreement allowing Niagara and Orleans counties to foreclose on contaminated brownfields without making the local governments pay for cleanups.
"This allowed some landowners to simply stop paying their taxes and kept strategic parcels of land from being repurposed for future development," Niagara County Legislature Chairwoman Rebecca J. Wydysh said. "With this agreement, we can finally begin to aggressively move forward in pursuing economic development opportunities for these sites."
Niagara County officials had disclosed the impending deal two months ago. It also applies to the cities of Lockport, Niagara Falls and North Tonawanda.
The communities, the counties and the Niagara-Orleans Regional Land Improvement Corp., a land bank, may market any of 81 properties listed in the agreement. The purchaser must join a DEC brownfield program and pay for remediation. Purchase prices will be shared with the DEC.
The DEC said it made similar agreements last year with Onondaga and Wayne counties and in 2016 with Suffolk County.