You need to educate the public and not during the middle of a contentious development application. The underlying issue is that the largest single investment that most Americans will make in their lifetime is their home and they will protect that investment at all costs. When they are told that what a big greedy company from out of town is trying to build a regional mall, an office park or even a neighborhood shopping center and that it will impact that investment by driving property values down, residents will circle their wagons and defend their home to the end. They see it as an altruistic mission, that they are on the right side of the issue and it is a matter of survival. How do you mitigate that?
The primary response to an industrial development is “put it in someone else’s town”. There is very little that causes more controversy in a community than proposed developments in an industrial zone or trying to change zoning to industrial. This is especially true in a small or moderate sized community. An industrial zone can encompass everything from a quarry to a refinery to a manufacturing plant to an ethanol storage facility and in some communities it can include adult entertainment.
Transparency and education can go a long way to mitigating some of that opposition. You need to accept that you are never going to convince everyone that regardless of what you present or evidence that you have, a percentage of the opposition will never believe it. What you should find is that most people are in the middle seeking information, but you cannot sit on the sidelines while the NIMBY faction and environmental groups provide that information and define you and your project. Take the lead, get out in front, be transparent and start a dialogue with the community.
Navigating the waters of the regulatory process on the local, state and federal levels can be the equivalent of white water rafter on the Colorado River with no paddles. Whether it be the Army Corp of Engineers, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission or any of a number of federal and state agencies, the process can drag on and institutional agendas can come into play. No matter what agency, at what level of government or no matter what the regulation that is being debated, you need to have advocates on your side to push the process along and secure the desired outcome. Shortly after entering this business I learned through experience that even the large federal agencies in Washington D.C. count the letters, emails and other forms of communication they receive regarding an application. They do weigh the number for versus the number against when ultimately making their decision. The key is to have more than your opponent.
“Residential” today comes in may forms, single family homes, apartments, senior living and affordable housing are but a few terms in the scope of “residential”. Regardless of what type of housing you are trying to develop; NIMBY’s will typically try to pull the ladder up once they have boarded the ship. Simply said, once most people are settled into their new subdivision, they are likely to oppose anything you propose that is more than a few homes. Residents will oppose senior living, a single family subdivision and especially “affordable housing”, with all the connotations and stereotypes that come with it. Through the years we have faced all of those issues for all types of developments, contact us and we will discuss a strategy to steer your project through the regulatory infested waters.