What can builders do when faced with opposition from anti-growth groups and a governor's unfriendly smart growth policy?
"Build coalitions to advance balanced housing and work within the political climate," says Kendall Buck, executive vice president and lobbyist for the Home Builders and Remodelers Association of New Hampshire. He advises those in unfriendly political climates to use all tools available, including public relations, lobbying and litigation.
New Hampshire builders expect to avoid a bitter fight over pending legislation thanks to good relations with Gov. Craig Benson and Steven Lewis, Benson's chief adviser on smart growth. Lewis, a former land planner, affordable housing builder and state HBA president, heads a broad, nonpartisan coalition of builders, environmentalists and advocates for the poor and homeless.
In January, the Legislature rejected a work-force housing bill that the coalition favored. Lewis and Buck blame a misinterpretation of the bill as a state pre-emption of local zoning and a continuation of the previous governor's policies. Lewis expects a modified bill to pass this year. Meanwhile, the coalition is following Buck's advice by putting together an educational and lobbying campaign.