On October 22, 2019, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published their final rule repealing the 2015 “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) rule.  The repeal will be effective on December 23, 2019.  The breadth of the WOTUS rule affects which water bodies and wetlands are subject to pollution protection under the federal Clean Water Act.  In late 2018, EPA and the Corps issued a proposed WOTUS rule to narrow the definition of WOTUS, and solicited public comment.  The new WOTUS rule is not expected to be finalized until 2020, and is ...

At this year’s International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) Retail Development & Law Symposium held in Columbus, Ohio earlier this month, I presented a roundtable discussion on the best practices of land assemblage for large commercial and residential development sites.  Our table analyzed specific examples of land assemblage, both locally (15th + High Project in Columbus, Ohio, the FC Cincinnati Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio, and the Rookwood Commons and Pavilion development in Cincinnati, Ohio) and nationally (Google and Amazon data centers and the assembly of Disney World). 

The Ohio House of Representatives are considering a new law to create an economic tool to assist on Ohio economic development projects.  Ohio House Bill 740, introduced in October and referred to the State and Local Government Committee in November (where it received its third hearing in December), seeks to create a state bond bank called the Economic Development Bond Bank (the “Bond Bank”). 

Ohio General Assembly House Bill 727 (“HB 727”), introduced on August 29th, seeks to capitalize on the newly created “Opportunity Zone” program by adding a state tax incentive component.

On December 31, 2017, new Internal Revenue Code (“Code”) Sections 1400Z-1 and 1400Z-2, passed as part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, became effective. These two Code sections establish the framework for the new Opportunity Zone (“O-Zone”) incentives. Generally, a gain realized from the sale or exchange of property with an unrelated person can be deferred if invested in a Qualified Opportunity Fund (an “O-Fund”) within 180 days of the sale or exchange.

The One Hundred and Thirty Second General Assembly of the Ohio Legislature has seen a number of bills introduced that innovate state and local governments’ engagement in economic development activity. In particular, three bills have been introduced that, if eventually passed, would have fairly significant impact on the Ohio economic development landscape. Those are House Bill 469, House Bill 668, and House Bill 525.

Introduction:
On December 8, 2016, the Ohio legislature passed Senate Bill 235 ("SB 235") which, among other things, adds Section 5709.52 to the Ohio Revised Code (“ORC”). Effective March 28, 2017, this section authorizes local governments to approve property tax exemptions for the increase in property value for property that is either “newly developable property” or “redevelopment property.”  These terms essentially mean that as to a parcel of property, no commercial, industrial or agricultural operations are currently taking place on the property and that construction or reconstruction of a commercial or industrial building(s) is planned, but a certificate of occupancy has not yet been issued.

During this pre-development phase, the property tax exemption provided by SB 235 effectively freezes the taxable value in place during the exemption term until a certificate of occupancy is issued or upon the occurrence of other circumstances, as discussed below.

On December 8, 2016 the Ohio Senate passed House Bill (“HB”) 463. HB 463 in part amends Ohio Revised Code (“ORC”) Chapter 3735, which governs Community Reinvestment Area tax exemptions (a “CRA”).

On September 28, 2016, Ohio foreclosure reform takes effect following the enactment of House Bill 390 (HB 390).  The changes created by HB 390 will impact the foreclosure of both residential and commercial properties.  While Ohio foreclosure reform will undoubtedly cause county courts across the state to make revisions to their local foreclosure procedures and rules, the new law provides long overdue uniformity for foreclosing judgment creditors. Furthermore, the modernization of Ohio’s sheriff foreclosure sales, including the implementation of online sales, finally ushers the Ohio foreclosure process into the 21st century.  Additionally, the new law expedites the foreclosure of vacant and abandoned residential properties—a positive step in favor of community revitalization efforts to fight against community blight and prevent the existence of “zombie homes.”

Introduction
On June 22, 2016, President Obama signed into law reforms to the federal Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), referred to as the “Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act” (Act).  The Act is the first substantive reform to TSCA in about 40 years and  revises the process and requirements for evaluating regulatory control of a chemical and enhances public safety by increasing EPA scrutiny on existing and new chemicals being used in commerce.  The Act was approved by large majorities in the House and Senate and had the support of the chemical industry, business interests, environmental and health groups, etc.  The Act will affect what chemicals are used in commerce based on the potential for unreasonable risks to human health or the environment. 

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