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Atlantic Steel

Atlantic Steel: Federal Register; Announcing availablity of the draft Atlantic Steel Final Project Agreement for public comment.

[Federal Register: June 17, 1999 (Volume 64, Number 116)]

[Page 32493-32495]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Regulatory Reinvention (XL) Pilot Projects

AGENCY: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

ACTION: Notice; announcement of availability of the proposed final project XL agreement for the Atlantic Steel Redevelopment.

SUMMARY: EPA is requesting comments on a proposed Final Project XL Agreement for the Atlantic Steel XL Project. The Final Project Agreement is a voluntary agreement developed collaboratively by Atlantis 16th, L.L.C., stakeholders, and EPA. Project XL, announced in the Federal Register on May 23, 1995 (60 FR 27282), gives regulated entities the flexibility to develop alternative strategies that will replace or modify specific regulatory requirements on the condition that the alternative strategy will produce greater environmental benefits. EPA has set a goal of implementing a total of fifty XL projects undertaken in full partnership with the states.

DATES: The period for submission of comments ends on July 19, 1999.

ADDRESSES: All comments on the draft Final Project Agreement should be sent to: Michelle Glenn, U.S. EPA, Region IV, 61 Forsyth Street, Atlanta, GA 30303, or Tim Torma, U.S. EPA, Office of Reinvention (1802), 401 M Street, SW, Room 1025WT, Washington, DC 20460. Comments may also be faxed to Ms. Glenn at (404) 562-8628 or Mr. Torma at (202) 401-6637. Comments will also be received via electronic mail sent to: glenn.michelle@epa.gov or torma.tim@epa.gov.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: The proposed Final Project Agreement and related documents are available via the Internet at the following location: ``https://www.epa.gov/ProjectXL''. The Agreement and related documents may also be obtained by contacting: Michelle Glenn, U.S. EPA, Region IV, 61 Forsyth Street, Atlanta, GA 30303, or Tim Torma, U.S. EPA, Office of Reinvention (1802), 401 M Street, SW, Room 1025WT, Washington, DC 20460. In addition, public files on the Project are located at EPA's Region IV in Atlanta. Questions to EPA regarding the documents can be directed to Michelle Glenn at (404) 562-8674 or Tim Torma at (202) 260-5180. To be included on the Atlantic Steel Project XL mailing list to receive XL progress reports and other mailings from the project sponsor, contact: Brian Leary, CRB Realty Associates, P.O. Box 2246, Duluth, GA 30096. Mr. Leary can be reached by telephone at (770) 622-7797. For information on all other aspects of Project XL contact Christopher Knopes at the following address: Office of Reinvention (1802), United States Environmental Protection Agency, Room 1029, 401 M Street, SW, Washington, DC 20460. Additional information on Project XL, other EPA policy documents related to Project XL, regional XL contacts, application information, and descriptions of existing XL projects and proposals, is available via the Internet at ``http:// www.epa.gov/ProjectXL''.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), with the cooperation of State and local authorities, has initiated Project XL to work with interested companies to develop innovative approaches for addressing environmental issues. Project XL encourages companies and communities to come forward with new approaches that have the potential to advance environmental goals more effectively and efficiently than have been achieved using traditional regulatory tools.

Atlantis 16th, L.L.C. (hereafter referred to as Jacoby), a developer in Atlanta, GA has proposed redevelopment of a 138-acre site currently owned by Atlantic Steel near Atlanta's central business district. The proposed development is a mix of residential and business uses. Project plans include a multi-modal (cars, pedestrians, bicycles, transit linkage) bridge that would cross and provide access ramps to I- 75/85 as well as connecting the site to a nearby MARTA (the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority) rapid rail mass transit station. Jacoby has worked intensively with representatives of EPA, the State of Georgia, the City of Atlanta, other local authorities, and public stakeholders to develop a site-specific Project XL Agreement that will allow implementation of the redevelopment.

What is the Final Project Agreement?

The Final Project Agreement spells out the intentions of Jacoby and EPA related to development and implementation of this project. Due to the complexity of the project and the numerous processes and analyses necessary to implement it, EPA and Jacoby adopted a two-phased approach to the Project XL Agreement. The Phase 1 Project Agreement was made available for public comment on February 24, 1999 and was signed by EPA and Jacoby on April 15, 1999. This Final Project XL Agreement supersedes the Phase 1 Agreement. The Final Agreement incorporates information and agreements from the Phase 1 Agreement to the extent they remain current and in effect. EPA and Jacoby do not anticipate making substantive changes to aspects of the project which were agreed upon in the Phase 1 Agreement. Commentors on the Final Project Agreement are encouraged to focus on new information which was not included in the Phase 1 Agreement.

Like all Project XL Agreements, the Final Project Agreement itself is not legally binding--legally enforceable commitments described in the Agreement will be contained in separate legal documents such as the State

[[Page 32494]]

Implementation Plan and approved Remediation Plan.

Why Is Project XL Necessary?

The project site currently suffers from poor accessibility due to the lack of a linkage to and across I-75/85 to midtown and to the existing MARTA transit system in Atlanta. Construction of an interchange and multi-modal bridge across I-75/85 at 17th Street would improve access to the site. The bridge would also serve as a vital linkage between the Atlantic Steel redevelopment and the MARTA Arts Center station. In addition, construction of the 17th Street bridge was one of the City of Atlanta's zoning requirements for the project.

Jacoby is participating in Project XL for the Atlantic Steel redevelopment because neither the 17th Street bridge nor the associated I-75/85 access ramps would be able to proceed without the regulatory flexibility being allowed by EPA under this Project. Atlanta is currently out of compliance with federal air quality conformity requirements because it has failed to demonstrate that its transportation activities will not exacerbate existing air quality problems or create new air quality problems in the region. The Clean Air Act (CAA) generally prohibits construction of new transportation projects that use federal funds or require federal approval in areas where compliance with conformity requirements has lapsed. However, projects which are approved as transportation control measures (TCMs) in a state's air quality plan can proceed--even during a conformity lapse. EPA approves state air quality plans, including TCMs contained in the plans.

What Flexibility Is EPA Granting?

The flexibility Jacoby is seeking through Project XL is to regard the entire brownfield redevelopment project, including the 17th Street bridge, as a TCM. The flexibility under Project XL is necessary because the redevelopment likely would not qualify as a TCM in the traditional sense. Under the Clean Air Act, a ``transportation control measure'' must actually be a measure--an activity undertaken, a transportation project built, a program implemented. There are two components to the flexibility

 (1) The first part of the flexibility is to consider the entire Atlantic Steel redevelopment to be a TCM. That is, EPA would view Atlantic Steel's location, transit linkage, site design, and other transportation elements (e.g., provisions for bicyclists; participation in a transportation management association) together as the TCM. Under the Clean Air Act, a project must demonstrate an air quality benefit to be considered a TCM. The Clean Air Act lists several types of projects that can be TCMs but its language does not limit TCMs to the measures listed.

(2) The second aspect of the flexibility sought under Project XL concerns use of an innovative approach to measuring the air quality benefit of the Atlantic Steel redevelopment. EPA will measure Atlantic Steel's air quality benefit relative to an equivalent amount of development at other likely sites in the region. This type of comparison is available only to this particular redevelopment through the Project XL process. The entire Atlantic Steel redevelopment would attract new automobile trips and result in new emissions. Therefore, redevelopment of the site when considered in isolation would not qualify as a TCM in the traditional sense. EPA believes, however, that the Atlanta region will continue to grow, and that redevelopment of the Atlantic Steel site will produce fewer air pollution emissions than an equivalent quantity of development at other likely sites in the region.

Why Is This Flexibility Appropriate?

EPA believes the flexibility described above is appropriate for this project because of the combination of unique elements of the site and the redevelopment listed below. In the absence of these elements, EPA would be unlikely to approve new transportation projects during a conformity lapse.

 (1) The site is a brownfield. An accelerated clean-up of the site will occur if this XL Project is implemented. The clean-up and redevelopment of the former industrial site aligns with EPA's general efforts to encourage clean-up and reuse of urban brownfields. The likely alternative would be an underdeveloped, underused industrial parcel in the middle of midtown Atlanta.  

 (2) The site has a regionally central, urban location. Redeveloping this property will result in a shift of growth to midtown Atlanta from the outer reaches of the metropolitan area. Because of the site's central location, people taking trips to and from the site will be driving shorter average distances than those taking trips to and from a development on the edge of the city. Shorter driving distances will result in fewer emissions.

(3) The redevelopment plans include a linkage to MARTA. This linkage would make it possible for those who work at the site to commute without a car and would serve residents of Atlantic Steel as well as residents of surrounding neighborhoods. In addition, the transit link is valuable for those coming to the site for non-work purposes, such as dining, shopping, and entertainment.

(4) The redevelopment plan incorporates many ``smart growth'' site design principles. These principles include features which promote pedestrian and transit access rather than exclusive reliance on the car. The redevelopment will avoid creating areas that are abandoned and unsafe in the evening, hotels and offices will be within walking distance of shops and restaurants, shops that serve local needs will be within walking distance of both the Atlantic Steel site and the adjacent neighborhoods, and wide sidewalks will encourage walking and retail use. Jacoby has also responded to the adjacent neighborhood's request for public parks, designating public space to central locations rather than relegating it to the edge.

(5) The redevelopment incorporates many elements that could qualify as TCMs by themselves. In addition to the linkage to mass transit, the redevelopment will participate in a transportation management association (TMA). The TMA may participate with the City of Atlanta and Jacoby in monitoring the transportation performance of the redevelopment by collecting travel-related data annually.

With the exception of the site's accelerated clean-up, all of these elements will have an impact on transportation decisions of people who begin and/or end trips in the Atlantic Steel site. The combination of the site's location in a central urban area, connection to the existing transit system, design that promotes pedestrian access, participation in a TMA, and provision of bicycle and pedestrian conveniences are expected to work together to reduce growth in auto traffic in the Atlanta region. The redevelopment could demonstrate that the application of smart growth concepts can make a difference in travel patterns, even in Atlanta--where people drive more per capita than any other city in the country. Therefore, EPA intends to use regulatory flexibility under Project XL to approve the redevelopment and its associated transportation projects as a TCM.

[[Page 32495]]

Dated: May 28, 1999.
Lisa Lund,
Deputy Associate Administrator for Reinvention Programs, Office of

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