In an adjoining column, we publish Bedford resident Jane Aitken’s letter of concern regarding a proposed state “housing appeals board.’’
The proposal is aimed at addressing a workforce housing shortage. That is a noble effort, but the red flag Aitken is waving about this approach to the problem ought to be taken seriously.
The BIA (Business and Industry Association) noted in a recent column for the Sunday News that it will be working to pass legislation establishing a state-level administrative housing appeals board (similar in concept to the state land and tax appeals board).”
This board would “give developers the ability to appeal local zoning decisions that unfairly restrict housing development without having to endure the time and expense of suing in superior court.”
Hold the phone. How is it a good idea for an unelected state board to be in a position to overrule local zoning decisions made by the people in the community most affected by those decisions? This isn’t a statewide gas line or highway project, these are housing units and developments that can very much affect, and change, neighborhoods, schools, and local taxes.
As Ms. Aitken asserts, her town of Bedford is facing a lot of these challenges, and she thinks it’s Bedford’s business to decide them. The proper route of appeal, as difficult as that may be for a developer, is to take his case to the courts if he feels he has been wronged.
The BIA notes that “collaboration among businesses, policy-makers, and residents is critical to maintaining New Hampshire’s economic vitality into the future.”
We very much agree. But in this case it is the residents of a town or city who ought to be the policymakers.