Environmental Testing on Landbank Owned Land (vacant, residential)
The Hamilton County Landbank received a request from a local university to perform soil testing on a few vacant lots under Landbank ownership. The main focus of the testing is lead; I am awaiting response whether additional elements will be included.
If we move forward with a license agreement to allow testing, are there any liabilities or concerns we should be aware of? If contaminants are found on the vacant land, are we required to disclose this to buyers?
In general, are there best practices recommended for vacant land? - particularly if the lot’s planned use is edible gardening.
We have worked with a number of universities to perform soil testing on vacant lots, properties with structures and recently demolished lots to see what kind of lead levels we were dealing with in the City of Warren. As David mentioned, every lot had lead with the highest concentration of lead being on the properties with homes on them. We did disclose this information to the adjacent property owners and the buyers of the properties, and it did not affect the buyers interest in the properties as their intentions were for yard expansions. This is something you should run by your counsel as well to get their opinion on any potential liabilities they see.
After we did a number of soil test across the city, we applied and received an Environmental Justice Grant through the EPA to put together some educational documents and outreach material around the hazards of lead. Through the process we created a website and a handful of educational documents, including doorknockers we put on all adjacent properties to our demolitions, a yard sign we put at our demolition sites prior to work commencing, a vacant land reuse document and a document specific to community gardens and urban ag. I was only able to attach one document here, the community garden document, but you can view all of our materials at www.leadsafedemo.org.
If you have any questions or would like me to email you the other documents let me know and I will send them over!