Georgia House puts environmental restrictions into deeds

ATLANTA – The House voted 151-0 today to create “environmental covenants” in property deeds that would protect citizens from pollution while allowing polluted property to be sold more easily.

House Bill 1132, sponsored by Rep. Ed Lindsey, R-Atlanta, would allow property owners to record environmental problems in a covenant recorded in the deed. The covenant could include cleanup plans, and would restrict the property to uses that would not be harmed by the contamination.

Surrounding property owners would be informed in writing of the covenant, and it would protect against liability arising from proper use of the property. Polluted properties, such as some in Macon’s railroad industrial district, often have trouble attracting buyers because of the unknown costs associated with them.

“This helps property owners return brownspace properties to a marketable state,” Lindsey said. “We have a problem in the state of Georgia with brownspace sitting idle.”

Lindsey said the covenanted restrictions on the property’s use would protect against pollution. The bill was supported by business, local-governmental and environmental groups, he said.

“This is truly a Kumbaya bill,” he said.

The bill now goes to the Senate.