CEDS Strategy Analysis
If you’re concerned about a threat to your neighborhood or environment anywhere in the USA then contact CEDS at 410-654-3021 (call-text) or Help@ceds.org. As shown by the many victories you’ll find on our Successes webpage, CEDS has helped a very large number people preserve their neighborhoods and environment from a long list development and project types.
BASIC STRATEGY OPTIONS
There are two basic options available for resolving concerns about proposed development projects.
Equitable (Win-Win) Solutions
An equitable solution is one which resolves your concerns while allowing an applicant to achieve most of their goals. Here are a few examples:
- A landscaped earth berm to protect you and your neighbors from being subjected to an unsightly view,
- Requiring the use of highly-effective measures to prevent construction and impervious surface pollution from contaminating lakes, rivers or other waters, or
- Placing an emergency-services-only gate across the extension of a dead-end neighborhood street to prevent excessive cut-thru traffic.
Frequently we can get applicants or local planning-zoning authorities to agree to an equitable solution without having to engage an attorney. The key is to convince the applicant that it’s cheaper to negotiate than to resist. Or to convince local elected officials that a large number of voters want the equitable solution. For further detail on this option see Equitable Solutions.
Kill The Project
If the project will cause impacts any reasonable person would call excessive, then it is within the realm of the possible to kill the project, especially if it requires rezoning, a conditional use permit, a special use permit, a special exception, or even a variance or waiver. The key to achieving this goal is to first identify impacts that are in conflict with required findings then mobilize widespread public support for your position. If successful the project may be stopped without having to go to the expense of hiring a lawyer or expert witnesses. For further detail see Smart Legal Strategies and Politically Oriented Advocacy.
MOST EFFECTIVE STRATEGIES
There’s a widespread myth that most land use battles are won with lawyers and expert witnesses. While both can be important, most victories are 70% political, 15% factual and 15% legal.
- Political: Convince elected decision-makers that a large and growing number of voters support your position,
- Factual: Provide the science-based evidence that the adverse effects of the project will be excessive, and
- Legal: Show that the excessive impacts violate one or more of the findings required to approve the project.
CEDS STRATEGY ASSISTANCE OPTIONS
There are three ways CEDS can help protect you and your neighbors from a poorly planned development project.
- Please give us a call at 410-654-3021 for a brief, initial, no-cost discussion of your goal(s), the likelihood of achieving them, and the steps likely needed to win. During this first call we’ll try to answer your specific questions. But if a question requires research then we’ll need to charge a fee. Keep in mind though that this first phone call seldom results in a definitive strategy since there are too many variables and we will not have the in-depth understanding frequently needed to propose a winning strategy.
- We can also do a Zoom meeting to gain more detailed knowledge of your case then talk you through possible strategy options. Our fee for the Zoom meeting is $200/hour and most meetings (plus preparation time) last about an hour. We can then do subsequent Zoom meetings to fine tune the strategy and resolve obstacles as you work toward a successful outcome. Again, though, one hour may not be enough to develop a winning strategy then provide you with the assistance required to implement the strategy.
- For a fee of $1,000, we can conduct the detailed Strategy Analysis research described below. It is not unusual that this research results in victory at no additional expense to our clients.
CEDS STEPS IN DEVELOPING YOUR WINNING STRATEGY
The strategy analysis may consist of some or all of the following steps:
- We’ll verify your concerns regarding project impacts,
- Next we’ll assess the proposal for additional impacts, such as those contained in our Project Impact Assessment Checklist,
- We’ll identify all permits and other approval the applicant must obtain.
- We’ll review the findings required to approve each permit-approval as set forth in local law, though occasionally state or federal law is relevant,
- We’ll attempt to research the decision-making history of the body required to act on the permits-approvals with the goal of identifying factors which prompted past denials so we can seek to structure your case around similar factors. This research is easiest to do if decisions are available online, which is not always the case.
- Based on the preceding research, we’ll identify the key permit-approval that provides you with the best opportunity to achieve your goals.
- We’ll compile the evidence needed to show that one or more of the required findings to grant this key permit-approval cannot be met,
- Next we’ll identify issues, like traffic congestion-safety, school overcrowding, or environmental impacts likely to generate the widespread public support frequently needed to prompt decision-makers to deny approval for fatally-flawed projects or to add conditions an approval that resolve your concerns,
- If appropriate for your case we will provide a letter that:
- Presents our strategy recommendations for winning complex cases such as: https://app.box.com/s/31met0v2g2eyak3y5qa983r9013ir7oh
- Just sets forth the science showing that impacts are so excessive that the project does not comply with required findings, such as: https://app.box.com/s/ql3a3c9kzaug299v7vol5c4ol3f9oknl
- Can be used to open negotiations with the applicant that sets forth changes to the project that will resolve your concerns while allowing the applicant to achieve most of their goals, such as: https://app.box.com/s/zcsb9bf12cjog1dwmzdj9ctg3zf9x69c
- We’ll assist you in generating public support using methods such as those described in the CEDS Mobilizing Public Support for Preserving Neighborhoods webpage. Frequently this assistance includes:
- Creating a map showing the homes located in the potential project impact zone,
- Compiling a mailing list of registered voters living within the impact zone,
- Creating an online petition,
- Creating a webpage to provide petition signers, decision-makers, and others with details about why they should support your position,
- Drafting a letter that can be mailed to a sampling or all of impact zone voters urging them to sign the petition, and/or
- Drafting palm cards, postcards, flyers, paper petitions or other items for mobilizing support.
- Our assistance for a hearing on your case may include:
- Testimony: Frequently citizen testimony is limited to 3-5 minutes. We’ll draft testimony meeting the time limit. For more complex cases with multiple issues we’ll suggest separate testimony each to be presented by you and others such as that at: https://app.box.com/s/11mx1p6dto38bi6r1e7bj1jmtbeqbl36.
- Expert Witnesses: We’ll assist you in polling petition signers for folks who could qualify as expert witnesses such as health-care professions. Usually signers will testify as no-cost experts. If needed we can also search for experts that charge a fee for testimony.
- Petition Signer Documentation: Since 70% of victory is showing widespread support for your position, we’ll provide the following if we created a petition for you. Both items are crucial to convincing decision-makers that your support is substantial and your supporters care enough about the issue to remember how each official acted come the next election:
- an aerial showing that many petition signers live in the areas represented by elected decision-makers, and
- a compilation of the reasons given by petition signers for why they support your position.
- We’ll seek to identify at least one – hopefully several – attorneys with a good reputation for helping folks in your state who were concerned about similar issues. Hopefully the attorney will not be needed, but if you can afford one it almost always helps.
Whether all of the services listed above are appropriate for your case or not, our fee for the strategy analysis will be $1,000. The fee does not include mailing and other costs or fees for an attorney or expert witnesses. Usually the analysis can be completed within one- to two-weeks of receiving payment. The fee can be paid by credit card or check.
To discuss a strategy analysis for your case contact us at 410-654-3021 or Help@ceds.org.