In the past we have criticized efforts by the State of NH to override local zoning decisions with the creation of a State Housing Appeals Board (HAB). [See Problems with SB 306, Housing Appeals Board]

Three NH Senators took it upon themselves to hide the failed SB 306 bill in the budget because for two years in a row, two similar bills could never get passed. Savvy House members knew it was an egregious attack on local control. There are currently no less than three new bills proposed to repeal it, one is from Senator Regina Birdsell.

LSR 2020-2813 (SB) Title: repealing the housing appeals board.
Sponsors: (Prime) Regina Birdsell (R)

The creation of an HAB is all part of the push to increase high-density, low-income housing in our fair state, by allowing a few unelected individuals and private foundations to override local decisions, giving the advantage to developers.

But it gets worse. Despite hundreds of petitioners expressing their opposition to high-density housing in towns like Bedford, and passing new zoning laws to stop out-of-control proliferation, clearly the Governor has not been listening. According to these WMUR and Patch articles, Governor Sununu yesterday announced a “bi-partisan” program where the agenda is for the state to “rectify” the supposed “housing shortage” in NH.

We challenge anyone to show us where in our NH Constitution the State is required or allowed to manage housing?

From the Governor’s recent press conference with his Democrat co-conspirators, and the documentation provide thereof, we learned that there are TWO bills (no House Bill numbers have been assigned to them yet) that would enable this effort:

One is LSR 2020-2414 (to become an HB) entitled “relative to financial investments and incentives for affordable housing development”. Sponsors are (Prime) Joe Alexander (R), Erin Hennessey (D), Willis Griffith (D), Gates Lucas (R).

This bill will allow for more “tax perks” for developer cronies. (Bill Text)

The other is LSR 2020-2552 (to become an HB) entitled “relative to training and procedures for zoning and planning boards”. Sponsors are (Prime) Willis Griffith (D), Erin Hennessey (D), Joe Alexander (R), Tom Loughman (D), Gates Lucas (R).

This bill will require the state to “re-educate” local zoning boards so that they too, will fall in line with the radical agenda of “new urbanism”, elements of which are specifically mentioned in the “plan”. It also seeks to MANDATE low income housing. (see below) (Bill Text)

Why not just send our local elected boards to the Soviet Union to find out how the Bolsheviks took control of housing? Because that is exactly what this is — government central planning, Russian-style. Where is this allowed in our State Constitution?

The Documents

1) Recommendations and Plan to Address New Hampshire’s Housing Shortage

This document states that “…New Hampshire has the highest rate of millennial in-migration north of North Carolina and east of Texas”. This is an admission that attracting young people to the state is NOT a problem. In any case, we challenge anyone to show us where in our NH Constitution the State is required or allowed to manage migration?

Another stated goal is to “use tax restructuring to incentivize investment” which simply translates to “let’s reward our friends the developers by maximizing their profits”.

Described as “Enhanced Tools for Local Zoning and Planning Boards” one recommendation suggests forming yet another bureaucracy, a “Joint Housing Resource Council (JHRC)” to introduce every “new urbanism” meme one could possibly imagine: “…Compact Downtown, Village Districts, Cluster Development, Form-based / Character-based historic districts, Inclusionary / density bonus overlay, Mixed-Use Zoning, and Planned Unit Developments (PUDs)” et al. This is not a way to “enhance” local control, but to contain and overtake it.

In fact it seems the only agencies that are empowered as a result of this dubious plan are the unelected, unaccountable regional boards and private organizations that are mentioned throughout.

2) Recommendations and Plan to Address New Hampshire’s Housing Shortage Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) attempts to explain away the above in terms that make it seem like local governments will be empowered rather than infringed, and there will be no negative impacts to the middle class, single-family homeowner.

3) Finally, a colorful poster cites the program as “A WIN FOR NEW HAMPSHIRE MUNICIPALITIES | WORKFORCE | DEVELOPERS”

Sorry to say, this draconian program, if imposed upon NH, will forever change the “NH Advantage”, rendering us no different than any other New England welfare state.

Does the Governor really want to be known for this?