UPDATE – HB 104 was heard before the House Judiciary Committee on January 9, 2019 at 10:30 AM and the committee voted on January 15, 2019 to unanimously ITL, 18-0

House Judiciary Committee
NH General Court
107 North Main St
Concord, NH 03301

On 12-15-2018 the Business and Industry Association of NH wrote an op-ed in the Union Leader expressing their intention to support legislation to establish an ad-hoc appeals board to allow developers an easier path when appealing local zoning decisions. (The Union Leader has since come out in opposition to this legislation.)

Quoting the BIA-NH op-ed: “This January, BIA will be working to pass legislation establishing a state-level administrative housing appeals board (similar in concept to the state land and tax appeals board) to give developers the ability to appeal local zoning decisions that unfairly restrict housing development without having to endure the time and expense of suing in Superior Court.”

This proposed “housing appeals board” would essentially seek to override and overrule local control by allowing developers to sidestep local zoning laws that have been established by the vote of the people in the town. We question, and would challenge the legality of giving this authority to such an unelected board, a governing entity that was created out of thin air.

The article states that public opposition to high-density construction “is often predicated on myths about overcrowding school systems, attracting undesirable people or urban sprawl. Statistics don’t support these myths, according to housing experts who advise the Business and Industry Association.”

We suspect these “housing experts” who are advising the BIA are the developers themselves.

Overcrowded schools and “urban sprawl” are not “myths”. Statistics in Bedford show there are currently 40 more kindergarten students than can be accommodated, and Bedford’s high school enrollment at 1,477 is already 277 over its original 1,200 capacity.

“Statistics” claim there is no “urban sprawl”. But no statistic can show the visual effects of ugly high-density construction, contributing to the debasing of the rural character of a town that consists of 97% single family homes in its residential, agricultural, and historic districts.

Developers seeking profits with “high-density infill” in inappropriate areas do not seem to care about the burden of extra taxes on the homeowners when town services become stretched to the brink. The BIA-NH can slap the word “business” in its title, but it doesn’t mean it’s conservative or respectful of the law. The sad part? Three Republicans teamed with one Democrat to propose this LSR, one of whom is related to a NH HUD lawyer.

This LSR now has a bill number. Please write to your State Representatives and Senators to oppose HB 104, to the House Judiciary Committee, and to the Governor to ask him to veto HB 104, should it pass both legislative bodies.

Follow the status of HB 104 here.

TAKE ACTION

For those unfamiliar with the process to make a new law, here is what happens. We’ll send out reminders for when and where to write for each step, so you can tell the appropriate people your concerns.

You can write to the sponsors of the bill right now:

Lynne Ober (R)
Sharon Carson (R)
Peter Leishman (D)

1 – Proposed LSR 2019-0011 becomes a House or Senate Bill (HB or SB) In this case it is HB 104.

2 – It then gets a PUBLIC hearing before a committee – January 9th, 2019 in this case. People can testify IN PERSON, on that day, “for or against”, at these hearings, or simply register their opinions by writing to the committee. HB 104 was assigned to the House Judiciary Committee.

3 – The committee will make a recommendation to either pass the bill (Ought to Pass – OTP) or not (Inexpedient to Legislate – ITL)

4 – The bill then heads to the full body (House first in this case) who will then vote yes or no to the RECOMMENDATION. (Don’t be confused by this, because if the committee should recommend ITL for example, we want the legislators to vote YES)

5 – Then on “crossover day”, the process repeats in the Senate – committee hearings first, then full Senate vote.

6 – If the bill passes both the NH House and NH Senate, it goes to the Governor’s desk to be signed. Here is where you’d have to request he VETO HB 104.

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