Redeveloping Agricultural Properties – New RIDEM Policy

Friday, October 3rd, 2014

Agricultural LandThe RIDEM recently published Guidelines for the Management of Historically Agricultural Properties for Future Use as Open Space and/or Recreational Land (Policy Memo 2014-01). The intent of the policy is to ease the burden and streamline the approval process for agricultural properties to be converted to open space or recreational land.  This is a welcome relief for developers, municipalities, and land trusts developing reuse plans for agricultural land.  The new policy was developed in cooperation with RISEP, the RI Society of Environmental Professionals.  (I had the privilege of contributing to the policy development alongside the many dedicated professionals in the RISEP Regulatory and Legislative Subcommittee.)

Certain substances, particularly arsenic and the pesticide dieldrin, are commonly found on agricultural sites at reportable concentrations. Challenges arise when farm land is redeveloped for preservation as open space or a recreational field.  Concentrations of substances typical of agricultural use above the Direct Exposure Criteria necessitate extensive and costly remediation. The new policy provides the majority of the large, historically agricultural sites with economically viable options while remaining protective of human health and the environment.

Based on a study of analytical data collected from agricultural sites throughout Rhode Island, the RIDEM concluded that sites with jurisdictional releases of certain Agricultural Constituents of Concern (arsenic, lead, dieldrin, and chlordane) as a result of historic agricultural activities can be managed through the new policy.  The policy includes prescribed sampling requirements, investigation procedures, and remedial options that will streamline the site investigation and closure process.  The remedial options are intended to be cost effective while remaining protective of human health and the environment.

Contact us for more information if you are planning to redevelop an agricultural property.  We will explain in further detail how you can benefit from the new policy.


Blog post by Jason Gold, P.E..

photo credit: Jerry7171 via photopin cc

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