New Hampshire REALTORS® Push for Zoning Notice Law
Zoning ordinances help to preserve the character of a community by allowing only certain types of development in designated areas. One of the biggest issues with zoning ordinances is what happens when they are changed, or about to be changed. While property owners are allowed by law to object to a change, this right does them no good if they don’t know a change is coming.
To make sure property owners have a meaningful right to be heard, the New Hampshire Association of REALTORS® pushed for new laws governing notices of zoning changes.
In the past, many property owners in New Hampshire often did not know that hearings to discuss proposed zoning changes had been scheduled because the methods used to give notice of the hearings were ineffective. A New Hampshire municipality was only required to post a notice of a change-of-zoning hearing in two public places and one local newspaper. This antiquated system was out of sync with today’s communications media. As a result, many New Hampshire property owners were deprived of opportunities to voice their opinions.
In 2014, the New Hampshire Association of REALTORS® led the way to ensure that property owners whose properties would be affected by a new or changed zoning ordinance would receive sufficient notice of hearings on the ordinance. Through the association’s efforts, legislation was passed and signed into law that allows any person to request notice of a public hearing on a proposed zoning change. And if so requested, the municipality is required to provide that notice of hearing electronically or by first-class mail.
In addition, if 100 or fewer properties would be affected by a zoning change that would alter the boundary of a zoning district, change a minimum lot-size requirement, or redefine the permitted use of a property, the municipality must give notice by first-class mail to owners of those affected properties.
The New Hampshire Association of REALTORS® continues to work to ensure that each property owner’s rights are protected.