The X Factor- Municipal Approvals

“Motion to approve” is the usual statement I am accustomed to hearing for our clients at municipal meetings and hearings. In fact,  over 5 out of 6 end up with this outcome.  But what about the 6th one? What happened? 

The X factor consists of the things we don’t see or know about that are out there affecting every project.   I can tell you from experience each of these factors listed below has hurt and at other times helped us….How about:

1. How many similar projects have been approved or denied before, what precedents are in effect?

2. Is there a new board that has been established that has an agenda?

3. Did you presentation follow a huge controversial project? And the board members are still reeling?

4. Is there a moratorium pending?

5. Is there a ground-swell of sentiment in some direction within the community that needs to be addressed?

6. Did the some Board Members simply have a bad day, and were cut-off by a reckless driver during their trip to the meeting?

7. Relationships with the municipality (the Owner’s, The Neighbor’s, the Architect’s, The Business Competitors, etc)

8. Does the Chairman of the Board live next door to the property being reviewed?

9. Relationships between the property owner and their neighbor (or neighborhood)

We guide our clients and design our projects to be more-approvable well before we come before the usual municipal meetings such as: Zoning Board of Appeals, Planning Boards, Environmental Review  Committees, Architectural Review Boards, Landmark and Historical Review Committees.  We use our creativity and experience to satisfy the objectives of the project with as little administrative “bloodshed” as possible. By doing so, we can eliminate some of the back-and-forth nature of these boards decisions, which saves time and money for our clients. But sometimes out clients are adamant in their desire for a specific solution or pre-existing condition that makes our case difficult, or a combination of these with the X factor.

I am moved to write this just as a response to a disgusting decision made in one of my recent cases, where the Owners were clearly of foreign origin and the opposing neighbor used all of his insider contacts, organized the neighborhood to tilt the tables against my client in what really amounted to a lynching of a young couple seeking to legalize minor, non-visible construction done without permits.  Yes, they were actually trying to correct something wrong and the municipality sided with the opposition due to various clandestine relationships, where even the chairman had to recuse himself from voting.  So they may be forced to remove the improvement altogether.

So it goes. This is why we cannot guaranty the outcomes of these meetings, and though we feel absolutely wronged at these times, will not will not back down from fighting for what is right.