OUR CLIENTS ISSUE
Our client sought to entitle 3,000 acres for a state-of-the-art energy center including a refinery, power plant, water processing facility, and tank farm. Discreet land acquisition became public, causing rampant speculation about a massive and mysterious project. Negative media coverage, and community fear and hostility followed. Over 400 residents quickly organized to stop the mystery project, which needed zoning approvals from the county planning commission and board of commissioners. A countywide referendum on any approvals was inevitable.
We immediately went to work to develop an announcement strategy that included a press conference, an informational website and meetings with elected officials. We developed a comprehensive campaign that:
- Built an active community group run by local residents and business people.
- Conducted a door-to-door canvass of the entire county, ultimately canvassed the entire county more than five times.
- Implemented an information campaign that included 12 mail pieces, over 20 paid advertisements and tens of thousands of phone calls.
- Deployed an innovative ‘kiosk’ approach to community meetings featuring nine separate presentations citizens could experience at individual tables.
- Built a campaign database of more than 9,000 county residents including over 6,400 identified supporters.
- Sought and won nine supportive city council resolutions as well as endorsements from three counties, all of the area Chambers of Commerce and many other key endorsements.
- Turned out more than 300 supporters to the planning commission hearing, over 500 supporters to county board of commissioners hearing, and 250 supporters to the board’s vote.
Ran an aggressive referendum campaign that turned out record numbers of voters to the polls.
We won the planning commission vote, 4-1; the county board of commissioner’s vote,
5-0; and the referendum by 58% to 42%, ensuring our client’s critical land entitlement.
SENIOR LIVING FACILITY
OUR CLIENTS ISSUE
Our client is a large-scale developer of senior living communities. The company had submitted a zoning request and development plan to a municipality in Central Florida. The company had previously submitted a proposed zoning change for the same site but were turned down due to opposition pressure being placed on the commission by angry residents.
The company decided to make a second attempt a year later and introduced plans for a 177,000 sf, 286 bed lakefront community. The proposal required a zoning change a height variance and site plan approval.
We were hired for this second attempt to work with the neighbors, gather support for the application and provide political cover for the commissioners.
We began meeting with the immediate neighbors within the surrounding neighborhoods, educating residents on the benefit of having an upscale senior living facility on this site, the taxes that would be paid by the company that would go to the school system, the lack of vehicle traffic created by this usage as opposed to traffic that could be created by alternative uses and numerous other reasons. We canvassed neighborhoods and businesses, possible vendors away from the site educating them about the project and the additional jobs it would bring in as well as the multiplier effect for local businesses.
We were able to collect 321 petition signatures from within the surrounding subdivisions and neighborhoods that were presented to the commission, we presented 63 personally written letters to the commission, countless phone calls and 72 supporters at the public hearing. The opposition group did not have nearly the number of attendees opposing the application as they had in the previous attempt due to our outreach and education.
Our client’s zone changes and variance request were approved by a nearly unanimous vote of the commission. Our client later received the site plan approval from the Planning Commission.
OUR CLIENTS ISSUE
A multinational leading retailer proposed a 47,000-SF store on a key parcel requiring rezoning via referendum. The community by-laws allowed for a costly and lengthy appeal if 20% of the abutters (based on percentage of property ownership) rejected the measure. One opposing resident controlled 18% of the abutting property. We needed to first prevent the opposition
from gaining control of an additional 2% of the abutting property and then win the ballot referendum on zoning.
We worked discreetly to:
- Conduct an extensive door-to-door campaign targeting project abutters.
- Build strong personal relationships with key residents and engage them in a mutual gains-based dialogue.
- Identify and maintain a strong and diverse base of community-wide support.
- Educate residents on community benefits and build and maintain an active grassroots support network.
- Get out the vote on referendum day.
We successfully prevented a 20 percent abutter voting block from coalescing.
We identified and mobilized our supporters and we garnered 73% of the vote on election day. The re-zoning measure passed, and our client’s store opened.