Legislative Update Feb. 10, 2022

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Legislative Update: Feb. 10, 2022

Committee backs Housing Appeals Board 

Last week, the House Judiciary Committee voted to recommend killing two bills related to the Housing Appeals Board (HAB). House Bill 1216 would have outright repealed the HAB, while House Bill 1254 would have narrowed the eligibility requirements for board members. NHAR opposed both bills.

The three-member Housing Appeals Board established by the New Hampshire legislature during the 2020 session, with the support of NHAR, has been hearing appeal cases from local planning and zoning decisions since early in 2021. The HAB provides property owners, abutters and municipalities a faster, and therefore less expensive, option than Superior Court.

Another bill, House Bill 1389, would create a Land Use Review Docket at the Superior Court, which would have jurisdiction to hear appeals from decisions of local land use boards, including decisions of municipal planning boards, zoning boards, historic district commissions, and conservation commissions. The intent would be to have a specific judge with expertise in land use law preside over these cases and be mandated to render a decision within 150 days.

The concept enjoyed broad support in the Judiciary Committee, but concerns about cost to the court system may end up preventing the bill from progressing.

The full House will vote on these bills on Feb. 16.

Dispute Resolution Board bill runs into trouble

Senate Bill 324 would create a new statewide Dispute Resolution Board, with authority to hear and determine matters involving condominium, homeowners’ association, and cooperative owner complaints related to: failure to follow its declaration and bylaws; failure to follow proper voting procedures; and other actions not in compliance with association instruments or New Hampshire law.

At the hearing, some expressed concern that while New Hampshire has a Condo Statute (RSA 356-B), it has no such statute for Homeowners Associations (HOAs), nor is there a definition of a HOA. However, the bill does create requirements on how HOAs are permitted to be governed, such as blocking Associations from preventing solar panels.

Even the prime sponsor of the bill acknowledged that a lot more work needs to be done before the legislation would be ready for passage.

Inspection of private well water bill is all wet

House Bill 1452 would allow the Department of Environmental Service “to enter all privately owned lands with a private drinking well for the purpose of carrying out inspection and for the purpose of taking water samples,” and then subject those samples to existing DES public drinking water standards.

Currently, there are no private well water drinking standards under DES, so the bill would create and mandate these new standards. NHAR testified in opposition to the bill.

The House Resources Committee agreed with NHAR’s concerns and voted to recommend that the bill be interim studied.

For more information, contact New Hampshire Realtors CEO Bob Quinn: bob@nhar.com.

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