My Turn: Dispelling myths about Housing Appeals Board

For the Monitor
Published: 2/8/2019 12:09:53 AM

Lack of affordable workforce housing is a major crisis in New Hampshire. Senate Bill 306 addresses this issue by establishing a Housing Appeals Board whose sole purpose is to save time and money for all parties when an appeal is filed in relation to a decision rendered by a local land-use board.

It does so by providing an alternative process to expedite the appeals process, without relinquishing the ability of local boards to make land-use decisions, and preserving the right of all stakeholders to go to court.

Under current law, the only option if a permit or variance is denied is to sue in superior court, at significant cost to towns, applicants and abutters alike. Lawsuits often delay housing projects for years, effectively killing them because of missed market opportunities and investors who want a prompt return on their capital. Protracted legal battles kill deals, and developers cannot afford to wait for lengthy court proceedings that take years to resolve and consume the capital they’ve put at risk.

This bill preserves local control of the construction process as well as its due process rights, because it doesn’t change how municipalities make decisions, and it protects a town’s right to appeal any decision by the Housing Appeals Board to the N.H. Supreme Court.

SB 306 provides an efficient non-judicial alternative for towns, developers and others with standing to seek a review. Just like the Board of Tax and Land Appeals, the parties to a Housing Appeals Board decision can still elect to go to court.

Housing Appeals Board decisions will be required within 180 days of a local decision, greatly expediting the current appeal process and potentially saving hundreds of thousands of dollars for towns, builders and other stakeholders across the state. And it will put us light-years ahead of the current appeals process, which is a major cause of the shortage of affordable housing for the citizens of New Hampshire.

Call and email your state senator. Tell them that New Hampshire’s working people need and deserve affordable housing so we can sustain our growing economy and enable everyone to benefit.

(Sen. Bob Giuda of Warren represents District 2 in the New Hampshire Senate.)




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