Productive week for conservation issues

Leer Tower

Renovations to the Leer Tower in downtown Birmingham could benefit from a newly-approved tax credit for historic properties.

Last week was an eventful one for conservation issues in Montgomery.

On Thursday, the legislature approved a tax credit for the preservation and redevelopment of historic buildings, which will encourage continued investment in downtown areas and older neighborhoods near city centers.  As the urban renewal movement continues to grow across Alabama, the tax credits will provide developers with financial incentives to rehabilitate properties that can provide increased residential units near employers or additional business space in growing markets.

The legislature also passed an expansion of the Alabama Land Bank Authority to give more local control to governments dealing with tax-delinquent, neglected, and abandoned properties.  Without a process in place to take these properties from liabilities to opportunities for development, blight has often set in.  The land bank legislation will clear the way for cities to use these properties in ways that are beneficial to communities, such as for neighborhood gardens, rather than hindrances to safety and future growth.

Finally, Legislation that was intended to prevent public buildings from seeking LEED certification also appears dead for the session.  As we discussed in a previous blog, an effort was made to prohibit efficient building standards that fail to conform to certain forest certification criteria.  LEED uses a separate set of standards than the ones listed in the legislation, so cities and other government entities would have been prohibited from seeking LEED certification for new or renovated public buildings.  Fortunately, the point of contention (and it is literally that. The issue of forest certification standards amounts to a single point on LEED’s 110-point grading system!) appears to be moot as the legislation has failed to generate enough support to move forward.

You can follow legislation related to the environment each week on Conservation Alabama’s Hot List at conservationalabama.org.

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