The former Remington Arms factory in Bridgeport, which has sat vacant for decades and which the city recently began demolishing. Photo courtesy of Google Maps.

A much-hated state law that’s helped hobble reuse of industrial properties in cities across Connecticut is headed for significant changes.

Gov. Ned Lamont, Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Commissioner Katie Dykes and Department of Economic and Community Development Interim Commissioner Dan O’Keefe announced “progress” on the development of new regulations for the Transfer Act Friday that are aimed at lifting key barriers to revitalizing many communities’ long-blighted properties.

State legislators in 2020 OK’d an overhaul of the law, in place since the 1980s, that requires the owner of a property with a record of hazardous waste storage to both test for site contamination and clean up any contamination found before selling it.

Of the more than 3,000 properties identified under the Transfer Act’s process, only 400 have been cleaned up over its history.

Only New Jersey maintains a similar system.

Connecticut’s new system, Lamont’s office said in an announcement, would be “release-based,” meaning cleanups would only have to take place when contamination occurs or is discovered – potentially freeing up many properties whose tenants had stored hazardous chemicals safely and responsibly for redevelopment. The regulations have been under development by a working group of legislators, lawyers, advocates, developers, community members and others. Before being finalized and approved by the legislature’s Regulation Review Committee, the public will have a chance to weigh in.

Lamont’s office said the new rules will hopefully be done by the end of the year.

“The Transfer Act is a relic of the past, and that’s where it belongs,” Lamont said in a statement. “We should be celebrated for our industrial past, not penalized by it. DEEP and DECD have done the hard work over the past three years engaging with industry experts to develop these draft regulations that will unlock these properties and spur redevelopment in our communities. We’re almost there, and now we need to get this done for our communities.”