Underground amenities of modern life, such as landfills, gas stations and underground storage facilities, do make things convenient. But those amenities can also have a negative impact on the surrounding environment. If you are thinking about buying a plot of land, there are a few environmental considerations you’ll want to think about or resolve first. Many buyers steer clear of properties they perceive to be contaminated by oil, pesticides or other pollutants, as they will become liable for cleanup if they purchase the property. In this article, we will discuss Environmental Considerations When You Buy Land.
As the city of Atlanta and the state of Georgia become more populous, the need to use every available inch of land becomes greater. The Georgia Hazardous Site Reuse and Redevelopment Act, also known the Brownfields Law, offers some liability protection to people who purchase contaminated land. You’ll still want to pay attention to environmental considerations when purchasing a site, but cleaning up the land might be less of a hassle than you’d expect.
Inspecting the land
As a buyer, it’s up to you to do your research, ask questions about the property and visually inspect it for any signs of contamination or environmental concerns before buying. Just as you’d ask a number of questions before buying a house to live in, you want to ask questions before buying land to build on or develop. Legally, the person selling the land has to disclose any known information about environmental issues, if you ask. The seller doesn’t have to and will not necessarily give up the information if you don’t ask, though.
When checking out the property, be on the lookout for signs of environmental damage. The seller might not know about any problems, but you might be able to pick out warning signs or red flags as you walk across the land. For example, there might be an area of the property where all vegetation is brown or dead, while it’s growing fine elsewhere. Another red flag might be the presence of fuel or septic tanks on the land.
If you do suspect environmental problems or contamination, you might consider having an environmental audit performed. Think of an audit as a home inspection for vacant land. A professional will gather water and soil samples and test them for pollutants. The land’s use history will also be reviewed, to see if any red flags are raised.
Even if the land has environmental problems, you might still decide to buy it. If the property is a brownfield, meaning its use or development is affected by contamination or pollution, you can apply for a cleanup grant from the Environmental Protection Agency. You might be eligible for up to $200,000 to rehabilitate the land.
Brownfield laws are designed to encourage people to make the best use of property that would otherwise sit vacant and unused. Don’t let a fear of environmental problems stop you from buying land that could be used for housing or another practical purpose.
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