Legal Action Fund Helps Litigate on Housing Concerns
Six home builders associations have received grant approval from the NAHB Executive Board to pursue litigation on a range of issues of concern to the nation’s home building industry.
The grants from the NAHB Legal Action Fund were awarded based on recommendations from the Legal Action Committee, which met in Washington, D.C. on May 12 during the association’s spring board. The committee reviews applications for funding three times a year in conjunction with the NAHB board meetings.
Assistance has been provided on the following issues:
- Inclusionary zoning. The Florida Home Builders Association is pursuing a challenge to an inclusionary zoning ordinance adopted by the City of Tallahassee. The ordinance requires developers building 50 or more housing units within certain areas of the city to set “a maximum affordable sales price” of $125,378 for a percentage of the homes. The ordinance imposes additional restrictions on resales and grants the city the right of first refusal to purchase affected units. Claiming that it violates the U.S. and state constitutions, the association filed a suit against the ordinance, and it is seeking declaratory and injunctive relief.
- Permanent conservation easements. In Wisconsin, the Madison Area Builders Association is fighting an ordinance recently enacted by the City of Sun Prairie requiring landowners applying for rezoning from agricultural to residential to set aside two acres for a permanent conservation easement for each acre on which a land use change is being sought.
- Endangered species. The Building Industry Association of Washington is challenging a National Marine Fisheries Service listing of Southern Resident killer whales as an endangered subspecies of North Pacific killer whales. The association is seeking declaratory and injunctive relief from the court because the service has no authority under the Endangered Species Act to list distinct populations of subspecies.
- Preserving a favorable court ruling on a system development charge. The Central Oregon Builders Association (COBA) successfully challenged a system development charge enacted by the City of Redmond. The city is appealing that decision to an intermediate court of appeals in Oregon, and the association is seeking to preserve the favorable lower court ruling.
- Denial of a subdivision plan. Acadian Home Builders Association is supporting one of its members, who is appealing the denial of a subdivision plan in Lafayette Parish, La. The builder is seeking to compel approval of his preliminary plat and a 102-lot subdivision partially located in an Army Corps of Engineers-designated 100-year floodplain. The builder contends in his legal challenge that the development complies with all requirements.
- Down zoning challenge. The Home Builders Association of Delaware is challenging a down zoning ordinance for certain lands in Kent County. Prior to enactment of the ordinance, most of the land was zoned agricultural commercial or agricultural residential, permitting a minimum development density of one unit per acre. The new ordinance changes the density to one unit per five acres and requires 100-foot vegetation buffers along state roads and similar buffers for tidal and non-tidal waters. In its complaint, the association is raising procedural due process and equal protection issues and claiming unconstitutional and regulatory takings.
The deadline for Legal Action Fund applications for September’s fall board meeting in Salt Lake City is Aug. 1. Applications and guidelines can be downloaded from the members-only pages of www.nahb.org/legalaffairs.
For more information on these grants, e-mail Mary Lynn Pickel at NAHB, or call her at 800-368-5242 x8485.
For information on filing a funding application, contact Felicia Watson, x8229.