What to look for when purchasing a property
There are many issues to consider when purchasing a property. Depending on the size and scope of the property, and the final plans for use of the land and/or buildings, a new owner may run into multiple programs within the DNR that have rules affecting the property.
Program requirements that may apply
Before finalizing a property transaction, it would be a good idea to review each of the following DNR program requirements:
- Do your plans for a property involve construction, demolition or land-altering activities? Review Part 1 and Part 2 of the webinar series "Make your plans environmentally sound before you break ground! An introduction to environmental responsibilities for landowners, excavators and other construction contractors." It may help avoid costly delays and potential penalties.
- A number of DNR rules may affect land use on a property, such as invasive species, endangered resources, wetlands (that aren't always 'wet'), agriculture and historical landfills/unapproved waste dumps. Go to Purchasing property with greenspace for details.
- Water or the potential for water to collect on the property can be regulated by programs that include wetlands, drinking water, storm water and zoning for shorelines/waterways. Visit Issues related to water when purchasing a property for information.
- Potential air pollution issues include asbestos contamination and air permits for new operations. If you clear land and plan to burn brush or other materials, it is important to know the open burning rules. Go to the page on Issues related to air pollution when purchasing a property to learn more.
- Soil or groundwater contamination on the property that occurred prior to your purchase can affect how you manage or use it in the future.
- See Issues related to spills and contamination when purchasing a property for details.
- If you discover new or historic contamination or are concerned about liability for contamination on the property, review the Environmental Contamination page.
- The property may be subject to a continuing obligation for remaining contamination, for which subsequent property owners are legally responsible. See DNR's page on Residual contamination.
Property with permitted operations
If you are looking to purchase or sell an industrial property with existing buildings and equipment in place, there is more information on how to properly transfer or revoke permits upon sale of the property.
- Go to the page on Due diligence on environmental permits and requirements during property transfers for information on managing the existing permits and other on-going environmental obligations.
- Also, there are programs available that may help to limit your liability if you find issues that do not comply with environmental regulations:
Reduce environmental impact and lower costs
When considering environmental impacts from activities on a new property, you may also want to think about ways to lower your impact and save money. Adopting more sustainable practices and investing in renewable energy technologies can increase energy efficiency, reduce waste, and lower water usage, to name a few. Learn about ways to minimize your footprint and improve your bottom line on the Sustainability page.
Taking steps to reduce impact may even help you avoid regulatory requirements. Implementing sustainable practices can easily be included in new construction projects. Existing buildings and equipment can be retrofit with new technologies to improve performance. The Financial Resources page includes links to funding assistance for these types of projects under the “Pollution prevention and energy efficiency” section.
Contact the Small Business Environmental Assistance Program if you have questions on this information.