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Issues related to purchasing property
Contact information
For information about the Small Business Environmental Assistance Program, contact:
Small Business Hotline
Toll free: 855-889-3021
DNRSmallBusiness@wisconsin.gov

What to look for when purchasing a property

There are many issues to consider when you are looking at purchasing a property. Depending on the size and scope of the property, you may run into multiple programs within 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:

  • Most DNR programs have rules that may affect a property, such as invasive species, endangered resources, wetlands (that aren't always 'wet'), agriculture and historical landfills/unapproved waste dumps. Go to DNR's page on property with greenspace for more details on these issues.
  • 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 DNR's page on water-related issues for more information.
  • If you discover new or historic contamination or are concerned about liability for contamination on the property, review the information on DNR’s Environmental Contamination page. Soil, groundwater or other types of environmental contamination on the property that occurred prior to your purchase can affect how you manage or use the property in the future. See DNR's page on issues related to spills and contamination for more details. 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, regarding continuing obligations for remaining contamination.
  • There may be a few scenarios related to air pollution, such as asbestos contamination of existing buildings and air permits for new operations planned for the property. If you clear land and plan to burn brush or other materials on the property, it is important to know the open burning rules. Go to the air pollution page for more details.

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 Property transfers page for information on managing the existing permits. Also, there are programs available that may help to limit your liability if you find issues that do not comply with environmental regulations: the DNR's Compliance Audit Program, and EPA's general Audit Policy [exit DNR] as well as their specifically designed Small Business Policy [exit DNR].

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.

Last revised: Wednesday January 31 2018