Who may appeal development plans?

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March 5, 2024

“Abutters” vs. “aggrieved” parties

One tactic used to slow or stop housing development has been for abutters to seek a rehearing of project approval from their local zoning board of adjustment.

Current law allows not just abutters, but anyone who is “aggrieved” by a decision, to appeal. For example, a property owner who lives miles away from a development could claim to be negatively impacted and file a time-consuming appeal. Such appeals can cost both the municipality and the developer significant dollars.

House Bill 1359 seeks to eliminate the “aggrieved” standard and make it clear that only an abutter may appeal. The bill also redefines “abutter” to guarantee the right to appeal for those in closer proximity to the project. 

The House Municipal and County Committee narrowly recommended that the bill pass – by just a 10-8 vote despite no opposition to the bill.

NHAR joined with the NH Municipal Association and the Business and Industry Association, along with housing advocates, in a letter to all House members asking for their support of the legislation.

The bill will be voted on by the full House later this week.

Towns seek fees on hotels and short-term rentals.

House Bill 1254 allows a municipality to levy and collect a fee of up to $2 per room per night on hotels, as well as vacation or other short-term rentals, with the revenue used to augment funding for the cost of municipal services associated with the increase in tourism and traffic. Similar bills have been introduced over the past several legislative sessions but have ultimately failed. 

The House Ways and Means Committee deadlocked on whether or not to recommend the bill pass. A final House vote will take place this week.

Emailing a driver license.

Senate Bill 502 was introduced on behalf of NHAR by Sen. Sharon Carson (R-Londonderry) and it clarifies that licensed real estate brokers may request a client or customer email a copy of their driver’s license.  Existing law makes it a misdemeanor to knowingly scan, record, retain, or store a New Hampshire driver’s license (asking for an out-of-state license is permitted).

Vacant property fraud schemes are on the rise, and a copy of a driver’s license is one tool that brokers can use to protect themselves. Asking for identification is not a cure-all solution, but this legislation would be one way to fight fraud.

The Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously supported the bill, and it is on the consent calendar in the Senate this week. Non-controversial bills are generally placed on the “consent calendar” to allow those to pass without debate. The House should take up the bill later this spring.

Quote of the Week

“We are well past time as a city to create some below-market housing … some of it may not be (through non-profits), they may be with private developers. That could be done by changing city zoning to incentivize developers.”

–Portsmouth City Councilor John Tabor, discussing the need to change existing city zoning which makes it difficult to build affordable housing. (Portsmouth Herald, March 4, 2024) 

Wondering what obligations New Hampshire towns have to provide workforce and affordable housing? Check our NHAR’s video on the state’s affordable housing law. 

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

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