City of Hernando Receives MML Excellence Award for Brownfield Redevelopment

The Mississippi Municipal League (MML) Excellence Awards program recognizes cities and towns for meeting the challenges of municipal government through innovative problem solving, excellence in management, citizen participation, and striving to provide a higher level of service. Each year, awards are given in the areas of public safety, planning and economic development, and city spirit. Winners are chosen by a committee of judges outside of the MML and are recognized at the MML Annual Conference. On Wednesday, March 31, 2021, PPM Consultants, Inc. had the privilege of being recognized along with the City of Hernando, Mississippi, the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ), Hernando Town Properties, LLC, and the Mississippi Development Authority (MDA) for the 2020 MML Excellence Award in Planning and Economic Development. The public-private partnership resulted in the transformation of the former Reliable Equipment brownfield site into two local small businesses.

The MDA’s Mississippi Economic Redevelopment Act (MERA) is unique to Mississippi.  MERA promotes cleanup and redevelopment of brownfield sites in the State of Mississippi through a sales tax rebate.  MERA allows developers to recoup 2.5x his/her cleanup cost for a Brownfield site in a sales tax rebate on the redevelopment.  After performing necessary due diligence, getting an official Brownfield site designation, and receiving approval from the City, the MDEQ, and the MDA, developers interested in redeveloping brownfield sites can take advantage of this tax rebate.

Phase I and II Environmental Site Assessments (ESAs) funded by the City of Hernando’s Community-Wide Brownfield Assessment Grant (awarded by the Environmental Protection Agency) were performed at the former Reliable Equipment site in Hernando.  These environmental assessments revealed petroleum-impacted soils from past heavy equipment maintenance operations on the site. Hernando Town Properties, LLC was interested in redeveloping the site into a mixed-use redevelopment, but the roughly $50,000 price tag for cleanup stood in the way.  However, MERA paved the way for Hernando Town Properties, LLC’s goal to become a reality. PPM assisted Hernando Town Properties, LLC with the necessary corrective action planning and environmental cleanup activities so that the site could be redeveloped.

Cleanup activities at the site included the excavation and disposal of approximately 226 tons of petroleum-impacted soil, the removal and disposal of two underground storage tanks (UST), and backfilling of the excavation with clean sand/clay mixture and compaction of the backfill using excavation equipment to prevent settling. Working closely with MDEQ, the City of Hernando, and the developer, PPM was able to design and manage a cost effective cleanup strategy and still achieve closure under budget despite the unexpected USTs. A closure report was submitted to MDEQ on August 28, 2018 and a “no further action” letter for the former Reliable Equipment site was issued on February 28, 2019. With PPM’s assistance, Hernando Town Properties was able to secure liability protection through a Brownfield Agreement with the MDEQ and begin recouping cleanup costs through the MERA sales tax rebate. Hernando Town Properties has since renovated the existing building and repurposed it into two successful businesses: Uncle Bubba’s Barbeque restaurant and Social x Saint, a local boutique-style home store. Uncle Bubba’s generated 50 jobs and has dramatically increased the quality of life — and great dining options — for the residents of Hernando. Social x Saint has created jobs in the downtown Hernando area and offers residents and visitors a new opportunity to shop locally.