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Senate Bill 552, was originally introduced February 9, 2012, during the last legislative session and creates the “West Virginia Land Stewardship Corporation Act.” During the current legislative session, Governor Tomblin appears to have endorsed the land stewardship concept by having introduced SB 342 and HB 2590, which slightly modifies the legislation introduced last year. The bills seek to collectively address several environmental and economic development programs already established under State law to promote the productive reuse of idle and underutilized commercial, industrial, and mining properties.

The bills also establish several new programs. First, they establish a State land bank as a legal and financial mechanism designed to accept title to certain properties and to assist in the transformation of idle and underutilized property back into productive reuse. Second, the bills authorize the conveyance of certain types of properties to the land bank and permit the land bank to assist State and local governments with the assembly and clearance of title to those properties in a coordinated fashion. Third, the bills establish a State “certified sites” program in order to comprehensively identify sites that are ready for construction within twelve months or less and are certified “project ready” for specific industry profiles. Fourth, the respective Senate and House versions of the legislation create a voluntary program to be utilized on a fee or subscription basis, using the nonprofit corporation established by the bills, to protect human health and the environment in the long-term operation and maintenance of certain sites. Finally, the bills establish a nonprofit corporation with a Board of Directors to oversee the various programs established by the legislation.