By Regina Barnes for The Liberty Block
Back in 2019, during the state budget negotiations, as part of the Senate amended version, the omnibus budget bill included the creation of a statewide housing appeals board (HAB).
Although the 2019 introduced bill, SB306, the creation of the HAB was defeated in the legislative process, the state senate along with the governor thought it proper to include the HAB as part of the biennial budget negotiations. The creation of this board had been tried several times before and it always failed, so this time, it was included as part of the budget deal.
The repeal of this board has been presented during every NH legislative session since the HAB’s effective date of July 1, 2020. In 2020, 2021, and 2022 all the proposed repeals of the HAB were determined to be inexpedient to legislate (ITL). Statewide there have been local efforts, Hampton included, to convince our Concord representatives and senators to repeal this unconstitutional board, as we can see, all efforts have failed.
The HAB is an appointed board of state non-elected bureaucrats. This body should not be able to overrule decisions made by locally elected bodies, such as town planning boards and zoning boards of adjustment. In fact, the entire creation of this HAB is repugnant to the state constitution.
The HAB is a one size fits all policy, not good for our NH advantage, local communities, and their sovereignty. I would argue that this appeals board creates more state suffocation as well as takes power away from locally elected municipal boards. It is not the right of our state representatives to decide what is best for individual communities throughout the state. The authority simply is not there.
In November 2020, by Executive Order, Dictator Sununu created the Council on Housing Stability. This council is made up of appointed state bureaucrats with one size fits all policies to address homelessness, statewide. Another act completely repugnant to the state constitution.
Last Thursday (2/17/22), during the Governor’s state of the state address; he discussed his creation of the Council on Housing Stability as well as 2022 proposed bipartisan legislation (SB400) that is, Relative to training and procedures for zoning and planning boards and relative to financial investments and incentives for affordable housing development. SB400 Bill sponsors:
- Senator Jeb Bradley [R]
- Senator Becky Whitley [D]
- Senator Erin Hennessey [R]
- Senator Lou D’Allesandro [D)]
- Senator David Watters [D]
- Senator Rebecca Perkins Kwoka [D]
- Senator Cindy Rosenwald [D]
- Senator Kevin Avard [R]
- Senator Kevin Cavanaugh [D]
- Senator Thomas Sherman [D]
- Senator Suzanne Prentiss [D]
- Senator Donna Soucy [D]
- Senator Jay Kahn [D]
- Representative Charlotte DiLorenzo [D]
- Representative Karen Umberger [R]
- Representative Joe Alexander [R]
- Representative Joe Sweeney [R]
- Representative Marjorie Porter [D]
This bipartisan bill is also repugnant to the state constitution, and it is appalling how many of our supposedly conservative senators and representatives sponsored it. Apparently, the sponsors of this bill have never been elected at the local level in NH. Statehouse one size fits all mandates onto locally elected municipal boards are complete government overreach and hurt individual communities and their character. To quote Jane Aitken, vice-chair of the coalition of NH taxpayers, “this is total Bolshevism.”
Also, during the state of the state address, the governor proposed using federal pandemic relief money to invest $60 million in grants for multifamily housing projects and $30 million for municipalities that approve permits for these buildings within six months of application. Another $5 million would be used for grants to demolish vacant and dilapidated buildings, and $5 million would be given to cities and towns to update planning and zoning regulations to boost development.
Back in August 2021, during a special meeting of the Legislative Fiscal Committee, it was approved to use $1.5 million from the federal ‘American Rescue Plan’ for regional planning commissions to do a needs assessment on housing across the state and to hire a project manager to implement a three-year strategic plan to improve housing stability. It seems that our state legislatures are fully involved in carrying out the federal government’s dirty work when it comes to housing.
This is a direct threat to both local and state sovereignty. Neither the feds nor the state has the constitutional right to act on affordable housing. Local town elections will be here soon, NH towns need Selectmen, Planning Board, and Zoning Boards of Appeal candidates who support the repeal of the Concord Housing Appeals Board. Candidates who would contact their state reps and senator and demand the repeal of the HAB.
There is no way a state-appointed; non-elected body should be able to overrule a locally elected one. Make sure you vet who you will be voting into local offices in your NH hometown. Ask all candidates running; How do you feel about the housing tyranny happening at the statehouse?