Legal Action Grants Support Wetlands, Density Cases
At its Jan. 19 meeting during the International Builders’ Show in Las Vegas, the NAHB Legal Action Committee recommended grants from the association’s Legal Action Fund (link is for members only) to support cases involving federal wetlands law, a municipality abusing its power during the development approval process, and more.
The fund was created to ease the burden on NAHB members and home builders associations of pursuing expensive and time-consuming cases involving nationally significant issues or legal matters commonly faced by builders and developers.
Among the more interesting cases approved last month by the NAHB Executive Board for funding:
- A member of the Buffalo Niagara Builders Association in New York is arguing that a federal district court incorrectly held that under the Administrative Procedures Act he could not challenge a determination by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that wetlands on his property were subject to the federal government’s jurisdiction. In addition to providing funding, NAHB has agreed to submit an amicus brief in support of the member.
- The Home Builders Association of Lane County in Oregon is challenging a municipality’s attempt to reduce allowable density in order to prevent multifamily development. The municipality abruptly changed its building code when not-in-my-backyard property owners opposed a developer’s attempt to provide student housing for a local university. The municipality’s action comes at a time when many states are requiring higher densities as a way to address climate change. NAHB agreed to fund this case and also may support the challenge with an amicus brief.
- The Rhode Island Builders Association is supporting a member’s challenge to a municipality that denied his development application under the assertion that a comprehensive plan trumped existing zoning ordinances. The state association will submit an amicus brief to the Rhode Island Supreme Court and NAHB is providing financial support for that effort.
- A member of the Home Builders Association of Greater Kansas City is asserting that a municipality violated his due process rights when it refused to approve final plans for his project. The municipality denied the same project plan its staff had previously approved and then proceeded to submit and approve its own project plans for the member’s property — asserting that it was the property owner in the new project plan.
The committee reviews Legal Action Fund applications three times a year in conjunction with scheduled meetings of the NAHB Board of Directors.
The deadline for applications for the upcoming board meeting in Washington, D.C. in May is April 14. Click here to download applications and guidelines from the members-only pages of NAHB's Web site.
For more information on the grant program, e-mail Mary Lynn Huett at NAHB, or call her at 800-368-5242 x8485. For information on filing an application to the fund, contact Christopher Whitcomb x8329.