Our Clients Issue

Our national client required a zoning change for a neighborhood shopping center in New England. The anchor tenant was a 65,000 sf grocery store. There was competing grocery anchored shopping center already operating across the street which presented a problem. The client retained us to get support for the zoning change without alerting the competing center of our plans. The zone change process involved a recommendation by the Planning Board. With Board approval, a town wide referendum would be held. If the Planning Board voted no, the process would have ended.

As we moved forward with the referendum we were aware that if 20 percent of the abutting property submitted a protest petition the referendum would have required a two thirds vote rather than just a majority. The competing grocery store accounted for 18 percent of needed 20 percent of abutting property.



We accomplished the following to win the zoning approval:

  • We created our campaign around the land owner, a local builder who was well liked and who contributed a great deal to the community.
  • We worked with the landowner going over the entire voting list to identify people whose home he had built or done favors for or benefited from his community involvement.
  • We messaged the campaign based on “Do this for Manny” to attract tenants to his property and retire.
  • While meeting with our list and with the abutting residential neighbors, we never discussed what kind of anchor tenant there would be.
  • We ran a voter identification process, making a list of everyone who would vote yes prior to Election Day.
  • We ran an aggressive “Get Out the Vote” effort and saw to it that every identified supporter voted.


The Result

We won the referendum with over 70 percent of the vote which was the highest total on a referendum in the town’s history. Due to our efforts our client was able to build their shopping center.