On July 3, 2023, Governor DeWine signed Ohio’s biennial budget legislation for FY2024-2025, House Bill 33, into law, which includes an investment of an additional $350 million in the State’s Brownfield Remediation Program and Building Demolition and Site Revitalization Program (collectively, the “Program”). The State’s budget for the last budget cycle established the Program fund with an initial investment of $350 million to assess and cleanup Brownfield properties in Ohio so they may be redeveloped into productive use. The Program, administered by the Ohio Department of Development (ODOD), was a success as the $350 million initial investment was utilized in providing grants to more than 300 projects in 83 of Ohio’s 88 counties.
The State’s re-investment in the Brownfield Remediation Program provides a second-chance opportunity for the many grant applicants that were turned away in 2022 after the entire initial $350 million investment had been awarded, as well as new applicants and returning grant recipients with additional Brownfield development projects. While the Program will continue to be administered by the ODOD, HB 33 made certain programmatic changes to the existing law governing the Program (R.C. 122.6511 and R.C. 122.6512). Notably, HB 33 provides that only a “lead entity” may submit grant applications to ODOD. The designation of the county lead entity under HB 33 is either:
- If the county has a population less than 100,000, or a population greater than 100,000 without a county land bank, the ODOD Director selects the lead entity from a list of recommendations made the board of county commissioners; or
- If the county has a population of 100,000 or more and has a land bank, the land bank is the lead entity.
HB 33 also specifies that a grant application submitted by the lead entity must include agreements between the lead entity and other recipients that will receive grant money through the lead entity. Such other recipients (sub-recipients) “may include local governments, nonprofit organizations, community development corporations, regional planning commissions, county land reutilization corporations, and community action agencies” (emphasis added). Current law does not specify entities that may be sub-recipients and, although HB 33 does not expressly include private entities, the “may include” language regarding sub-recipients can reasonably be interpreted such that private entities can also be sub-recipients.
The $350 million will be split ($175 million per year) over the two years of the biennium. For each fiscal year, $1 million will be set aside for each county with the remaining $87 million of the $175 million available on a first-come, first-served basis.
County lead entities and sub-recipients should begin discussing potential Brownfield projects and coordinating grant applications/sub-recipient agreements as soon possible. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to Ryan Elliott, Kristin Watt, or your Vorys lawyer.