Davis legislation exempting municipal land banks from liability unanimously voted out of House Urban Affairs Committee

HARRISBURG, Nov. 21 – State Rep. Austin Davis’ H.B. 1737, which would create an environmental liability exemption for land banks, was unanimously voted out of the House Urban Affairs Committee on Thursday.

Current law, as defined under the Land Recycling and Environmental Remediation Standards Act, deems a land bank – enacted by a municipality for the purpose of acquiring and redeveloping local property – is subject to enforcement action by the state Department of Environmental Protection.

However, the Economic Development Agency, Fiduciary and Lender Environmental Liability Protection Act exempts “economic development agencies” from liability to the DEP, so long as they do not contribute or exacerbate contamination at the property. Economic development agencies include redevelopment authorities, municipal authorities and other government and community-based entities acquiring properties. Davis’ legislation seeks to grant the same protections to land banks.

“The commonwealth has so much land that could be repurposed and used but sits vacant due to the Department of Environmental Protection’s enforcement efforts. My bill would exempt land banks from this enforcement yet still encourage environmental clean up without fear of being on the hook for contamination that took place prior to the land bank’s purchase,” Davis said.

House Bill 1737 is expected to be considered in the House chamber in the near future.