Legislative Update January 28, 2021
Legislature to look at housing inventory crisis
By BOB QUINN
Chief Executive Officer
With housing inventory at an all-time low, the legislature is looking at a few tweaks to state statute in an attempt to provide municipalities an incentive to increase housing stock.
House Bill 586 requires the state to develop standard self-training materials and corresponding tests for zoning boards of adjustment and planning boards free of charge. The training is not mandated but is designed to educate land use board members of their legal responsibilities.
The bill does mandate that if a municipality allows increased density, reduced lot size, expedited approval, or other dimensional or procedural incentive for the development of housing for older persons, it must also allow the same incentive for the development of workforce housing. It also expands the definition of workforce housing.
Additionally, land use boards would be required to provide specific, written findings of fact that support the decision when denying a permit application. Failure to do so would provide grounds to overturn when appealing the decision.
The bill alters Tax Increment Financing (TIF) districts to incentivize affordable housing while altering time required time frames for land use boards and courts when reviewing permitting applications.
Finally, municipalities that achieve certain criteria for allowing housing would be given greater access to state dollars to bolster their infrastructure.
Another bill, House Bill 154, enables municipalities to offer community revitalization tax incentives for the construction of additional housing in designated areas outside of the downtown while expanding the definition of low-income and moderate income housing.
Housing Appeals Board open for business
The newly created Housing Appeals Board, established by the New Hampshire legislature during the 2020 session, is now accepting Planning and Zoning appeals. Their website is now up and running.
Designed to be a faster and less expensive alternative to Superior Court appeals, the Board has the power and authority to hear – then affirm, reverse, or modify, in whole or in part – appeals of final decisions of municipal boards, committees and commissions regarding questions of housing and housing development.
Appeals must be filed with the Housing Appeals Board within 30 days of the final decision of a municipal board, committee or commission. You can learn more about the statutory authority granted to the Board by clicking here.
The Housing Appeals Board has the power to award all remedies available to the superior courts in similar cases, including permission to develop the proposed housing. NHAR strongly supported the creation of the Board. The legislation allows a petitioner to act without a lawyer, or they may be represented by attorneys, professional engineers, land surveyors or architects.
If you have questions regarding these or any other pieces of legislation regarding the 2021 New Hampshire legislative session, please contact New Hampshire REALTORS Acting Chief Executive Officer Bob Quinn at firstname.lastname@example.org or 603-225-5549.