News & Insights

EXPANDED OPPORTUNITIES FOR BROWNFIELDS DEVELOPMENT

For 18 years, the North Carolina Brownfields Program has afforded developers a liability shield, “risk-based” cleanups, and tax incentives to encourage the redevelopment of contaminated properties. The NC Legislature has tinkered minimally with the program over the years, but this last legislative session ended with an important relaxation of the eligibility criteria.

Until now, to qualify for the Brownfields program, a would-be “Prospective Developer” has had to show “a bona fide, demonstrable desire to either buy or sell a brownfields property for the purpose of developing or redeveloping that brownfields property and [that it] did not cause or contribute to the contamination at the brownfields property.” N.C.G.S. § 130A-310.31(b). Now, the General Assembly has removed the must-desire-to-buy-or-sell criterion, so that a candidate who didn’t “cause or contribute” to the site’s contamination need only evidence a desire to develop/redevelop the site in question. That will render eligible owners of contaminated land who simply want to redevelop the site without selling it. That final, “loosening” outcome represents a sea change from what was under consideration earlier in the session. The original form of the bill (House Bill 765) would have greatly complicated the eligibility process (and left any number of applicants by the wayside).

The amendment passed by the legislature at the end of the session instead opens the BF program to potentially more applicants.  As amended, N.C.G.S. § 130A-310.31(b)(10) provides: “‘Prospective developer’ means any person with a bona fide, demonstrable desire to either buy or sell a brownfields property for the purpose of developing or redeveloping develop or redevelop a brownfields property and who did not cause or contribute to the contamination at the brownfields property.”  Assuming the Governor signs the bill (House Bill 765), the change will become effective December 1, 2015.

Under the law as it previously read, many would-be Prospective Developers have been frustrated by the buy-or-sell criterion. They owned the land in question, did not pollute it, and wanted to get out from under the tangled web of cleanup laws while at the same time restoring the land to valuable use. Now those floodgates have been opened and “innocent” owners of contaminated property who desire to redevelop it can enter the Brownfields program.  With its risk-based cleanup standards often requiring nothing more than land use restrictions, protection from further regulatory action (upon completion of required work at the site), and property tax breaks, this new amendment to the Brownfields Property Reuse Act allows for an important expansion of the universe of parties eligible to enter the program.

Our firm, which includes the attorney who created the Brownfields Program’s legal framework and was its sole counsel for its first 15 years, would be glad to help parties who think they may qualify navigate the Brownfields process, the rewards of which are plentiful.

Learn more about our Brownfields practice.

TESTING FOR MOLD — HOME TEST KITS

It can be scary to find mold in your home. Certain types of mold, and certain concentrations of mold, can cause serious injuries to you and your family.

Confronted with mold, many of my clients want to test their home for mold contamination immediately. Many hardware stores sell do-it-yourself mold-testing kits. Using one of these kits is less expensive than hiring an expert to perform the testing, so it makes sense to save money and use the do-it-yourself kit, right?

Well, not always. I am not complaining about the accuracy of these kits. However, if you have been seriously injured by mold and end up filing a lawsuit, a do-it-yourself mold-testing kit will not be considered compelling evidence at trial. The defense attorney will ask the jury to consider that you do not have the qualifications to handle mold testing yourself. Opposing counsel may even suggest to the jury that you performed the test intending to create high mold levels as a means of manufacturing a lawsuit. These arguments are usually ludicrous, but still, why take the risk?

Home mold testing kits can be useful for many things. But if you suspect that you or your home have been seriously damaged by mold, you need to leave the testing to the professionals.

If you believe you have been injured by mold, you may need legal counsel. Please give me a call. I will help you understand when to hire a mold expert, and who you should hire. There is no charge for our first meeting together.

Matthew D. Quinn, 919-754-1600, matt@attybryanbrice.com

Construction litigation in Raleigh – Toxic mold contamination attorneys in Wake CountyPersonal injury law firm serving the Triangle

MOLD IN YOUR OFFICE?

When you go to the workplace, you want to be working in a safe environment. Unfortunately an office or workplace is not always safe.

I regularly receive phone calls from persons who find mold in their office. Oftentimes these individuals have been working in an office for years, and they have noticed that they feel sick whenever they arrive. After dealing with these conditions for a lengthy period of time, it is discovered that the office is contaminated with mold. Sometimes the worker’s exposure to the mold has been so extensive that their injuries can be very significant, perhaps even permanent. Who is responsible for your medical bills?

When you are injured on the job, frequently the employer is responsible to pay workers’ compensation benefits. Workers’ compensation benefits will include paying for medical treatment related to injuries caused by mold exposure. However, workers’ compensation benefits do not compensate injured workers for many other types of damages, such as pain and suffering.

We can frequently solve that problem. For example, it is possible that a third-party (someone other than the employer) is responsible for the mold’s growth. For example, maybe an HVAC contractor negligently installed duct work in a way that caused the mold growth. In that circumstance, you might have a valid lawsuit against the contractor.

If you believe your office is contaminated with mold, I would be happy to meet with you. There is no charge for the first meeting.

Matthew D. Quinn, 919-754-1600, matt@attybryanbrice.com

Construction litigation in Raleigh – Toxic mold contamination attorneys in Wake CountyPersonal injury law firm serving the Triangle

HOW SHOULD MOLD BE REMOVED?

So you found mold in your apartment, and the landlord promised to send a handyman to the apartment to remove the mold. That is fine, right?

Actually, maybe not. In many circumstances, there are specific protocols for how to remove mold. Experts in mold frequently rely upon the ANSI/IICRC S520 standards, which, among other things, govern how mold should be remediated. If these standards are not followed, the mold may come back.

For example, what if a handyman scrapes the mold from the wall? If no plastic barrier is installed, the mold scrapped off the wall might enter the air within your apartment and be spread about by the HVAC system. This would take a bad situation and make it worse.

Also, how do you know whether the handyman found and removed all the mold? Frequently, it is necessary to have the apartment tested after the mold is removed. That way, you know whether the apartment is safe.

In other words, removing mold is not a simple job. The mold should oftentimes be removed by a certified specialist in mold remediation.

If you believe your home has been contaminated with mold, I would be happy to meet with you. There is no charge for the first meeting.

Matthew D. Quinn, 919-754-1600, matt@attybryanbrice.com

Construction litigation in Raleigh – Toxic mold contamination attorneys in Wake CountyPersonal injury law firm serving the Triangle