O P I N I O N
Stand up. Speak up. It’s your turn.
Residents challenge whether his new plan to flood NH with low-income, high-density housing is constitutional
Nothing is more infuriating to the voting public than watching a supposedly Republican governor appear to be violating the state constitution while shamefully mocking his strongest constituents for calling him out.
Governor singles out Bedford for housing criticism (Union Leader)
We are referring to the Governor’s disastrous new Bolshevik-style plan to manage development by flooding the state with low-income, high-density housing, and rewarding developers with tax breaks, for doing so.
In the above-linked article, the Governor said “…there’s some towns that don’t get this…” referring to Bedford, adding there is not “too much multifamily housing in Bedford already…”
Many people were stunned at his attitude. Bedford does allow some high-density construction in certain zones, but with limitations on numbers of units, so that town services won’t be overwhelmed by a sudden influx of the population. This makes good fiscal sense as well as protects the property values in historical and residential areas which are mostly built-up with traditional single-family homes.
The article continues: In an email, Sununu spokesman Benjamin Vihstadt said: “Governor Sununu believes Bedford, and much of New Hampshire, needs more multifamily housing that is affordable.” But by what authority does the state claim to mandate housing at all?
People are asking why the Governor would reward developers at the taxpayers’ expense. They are wondering if perhaps this move is to allow for more refugee resettlement. Apparently NH is one of several states whose governors are not taking advantage of their power to halt refugee resettlement in their respective jurisdictions, putting American taxpayers first.
In this December 11, 2019 article from Conservative Review, New Hampshire is cited as one of those states which could stop more resettlement but is not.
Whatever his reason for this egregious attempt to override local control, here is a summation of why we think Governor Sununu is simply wrong to attempt to mandate types and numbers of housing in NH’s towns:
- We question whether the NH constitution allows for the state to mandate housing types, and numbers of housing units in the individual towns, possibly overriding local control
- We question whether the NH constitution allows unelected appointees on a state board to override town votes and board decisions, overriding local control
- We question whether it is in the state’s purview to use our tax dollars to reward developers or others in order to promote the in-migration of selected demographic groups, or to create situations so that people can ‘walk to work’ from where they live
- We question whether the state can constitutionally mandate training for zoning and planning boards according to the radical agendas of numerous private, non-governmental lobbying groups like CNU.org, putting the process under the direction of unelected, unaccountable private and/or regional organizations driven by similar agendas. Elements of these agendas are already being removed from Master Plans at the request of the voters.
The Governor’s plan, which he announced in conjunction with Democrats on October 30 of this year, is shored up by two LSRs (HB 1629 and HB 1632). One bill would make zoning for low-income or high-density housing mandatory while forcing zoning and planning boards to accept training in the philosophy of “new urbanism” — an internationally-bred fad that has invaded the country. The other bill would give more tax breaks to developers for building specific types of projects.
Currently, there is an LSR (#2020-2813) pending which would repeal the three-person appointed State Housing Appeals Board, whose provision was secreted into the budget. It is sponsored by both Republicans and Democrats, including Bedford’s Democrat Senator from District 9. The HAB if not repealed, will allow developers to override the decisions of local boards when those boards deem certain proposed projects to be not in compliance with current zoning laws. The UL article failed to mention that the proposed 270 units for South River Road as well as two other projects currently proposed in Bedford do NOT comply with current zoning laws.
Finally, after touting himself as a “tax fighter” the Governor would seem to be contradicting that title at the same time putting his own re-election in jeopardy by angering those who voted for him. The plan has the potential to change the voting demographics of conservative towns, and most importantly, put the NH Advantage at risk.
NH residents from all towns are encouraged to call, write, or email the Governor and tell him to stop being a social justice warrior. Let him know that he is not doing the state a favor by interfering with organic development dictated by local control ( email@example.com). Tell the Governor he should stick to fighting Democrat taxes instead of promoting mandates that will increase them, threatening to destroy the NH Advantage. Residents are also encouraged to send letters to the editors of their local NH papers. [Links Here]
This issue should not just be of concern to Bedford, but every town in NH.
### Bills Mentioned ###
LSR 2020-2414 (HB 1632) Title: relative to financial investments and incentives for affordable housing development.
Sponsors: (Prime) Joe Alexander (R) , Edward Butler (D), Erin Hennessey (R) , Willis Griffith (D), Tom Loughman (D), Gates Lucas (R)
LSR 2020-2552 (HB 1629) Title: relative to training and procedures for zoning and planning boards.
Sponsors: (Prime) Willis Griffith (D), Edward Butler (D), Erin Hennessey (R), Joe Alexander (R), Tom Loughman (D), Gates Lucas (R)
See more bills of concern related to this issue on our Bill Watch page.
Beg to differ? Agree to disagree? Got something else you want to stand up and speak out about? We accept submissions of thoughtful prose on any topic of interest or point of view. Direct submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org, subject line “The Soapbox,” or you can DIY with our easy submission form, found here.
Jane Aitken resides in Bedford, NH.