Site Remediation at Former Orchard
In 2005, then Pennsylvania DEP Secretary Katie McGinty instituted a policy stating that DEP will not accept remediation reports submitted for properties formerly used as agricultural or orchard land and slated for development. That policy remained in place until 2013, when Liberty Environmental petitioned the DEP to consider an exception to its policy.
DEP’s reasoning for instituting such a policy was that the Land Recycling Program was intended to preserve farmland and open space, not to aid in developing them. The policy was applicable where pesticides were applied lawfully, which the policy stated was not considered a “release”.
In early 2013, Liberty petitioned DEP to reconsider its Agricultural Soils Policy. Liberty’s client was seeking to develop a 14-acre site former orchard site with soils that contained arsenic at concentrations exceeding DEP’s medium-specific concentrations for non-residential properties. Four arguments were made to persuade DEP to accept the property into DEP’s Act 2 cleanup program. First, the site was located along a major traffic corridor in a Designated Growth Area in the County’s comprehensive plan. Second, the property was zoned as Commercial and Industrial-Commercial. Third, the surrounding properties were mostly commercially developed with retail and warehousing facilities adjacent or nearby. And fourth, the property did not contain any woodland or any other significant wildlife habitat.
The property was accepted into the Act 2 cleanup program in March 2013, and received a Release of Liability in December 2013. The cleanup was based on site-specific studies that demonstrated that the human health risks were acceptable, and that arsenic at the site had limited mobility and did not pose a threat of groundwater contamination.
In September 2014, the region’s leading distributor for Crown and Toyota Lift Trucks, Lift Inc., opened a 68,000 sf facility on the property. The new facility is the home of Lift Inc.’s Materials Handling Division serving Berks, Lebanon, and Schuylkill Counties in east-central Pennsylvania. The new building also hosts Reading Tractor and Equipment.