In early March 2012, the Georgia legislature passed House Bill 994, which includes an amendment to the Hazardous Site Reuse and Redevelopment Act, O.C.G.A Section 12-8-202(b)(6), commonly referred to as the Georgia brownfields law. The amendment provides that a purchaser of property is no longer required to apply for participation in the brownfields program prior to the purchase of property, at which there has been a regulated release; rather, the purchaser has up to thirty days after acquiring title to the property to apply for brownfields protection. Further, the amendment of section 208(c) makes the limitation of liability received by a purchaser automatically applicable to future title holders, rather than simply transferable to such parties. Finally, changes to the law were made so that, in certain circumstances, existing brownfield purchasers would have an additional up to fifteen years to recover the tax benefits, which is an increase of five years from the current provisions
Each of these amendments were intended to address concerns of purchasers and sellers and facilitate more transactions associated with environmentally impacted properties. It is anticipated that Governor Deal will sign the legislation into law. In the ever shifting climate of environmental regulation it is crucial for developers and owners to be aware of the rules applicable to real property and to have access to experienced counsel in that regard.