Land Use BackgrounderDevelopment and construction projects are often destructive to local ecology. For example, stormwater runoff from developed areas can impact water quality in receiving waters, hinder navigation and recreation, and disrupt aquatic life. Site clearing and earth moving during construction often results in significant erosion problems because adequate environmental protection strategies are not employed. In addition, development activities may encroach on productive agricultural land areas and open space. Fortunately, steps can be taken to reduce impacts on previously undeveloped lands and to improve previously contaminated sites.
Brownfields -- abandoned, idled, or underutilized industrial and commercial sites where expansion or redevelopment is complicated by real or perceived toxic contamination -- are increasingly attractive as potential development sites. For companies whose portfolio contains one or more of these apparent white elephants -- many located in urban cores, near rivers, rail hubs, and interstate highways -- there is new hope for turning them into productive assets. Though they present several challenges, these environmental millstones may offer competitive advantages and benefits for firms seeking to acquire or relocate sites.