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Fellsmere moving forward to establish special redevelopment zones

FELLSMERE – Fellsmere city leaders have decided not to turn the entire city into one large brownfield zone. Instead, they plan to scale back the map to include only non-residential property.

“There’s any number of possibilities,” City Manager Jason Nunemaker told the city council last week.

Brownfield areas are designated zones that contain properties that have actual or perceived pollution. The designation allows property owners to request financial assistance in cleaning up the pollution and promote its redevelopment.

Nunemaker told the council that establishing such a zone within the city would help attract more businesses and redevelopment to the area.

Businesses could apply for financial incentives from the state for generating jobs or cleaning up any pollution on the site.

Nunemaker originally requested including the entire city within the brownfield designation. However, after hearing from George Houston, of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, who presented information about the department’s brownfields redevelopment program.

Houston explained that there are few benefits to including residential property within the brownfield area and typically is a cause for concern from residents.

He said residents tend to believe if their property is included that the government is saying that there is something wrong with their land.

As for commercial/industrial property owners, they can opt out of the brownfield area if they want.

The city council voted unanimously to move forward and will set a public hearing to allow property owners to express their opinions on the issue and opt out if they want to.

“You want your people to be happy and cognizant of it,” Houston told the council.

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