October 20, 2021

Volume XI, Number 293

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Top Ten Takeaways From Combatting NIMBYism Breakfast Briefing: Understanding and Combatting Objections to Real Estate Developments

Below is a summary of the Top Ten Takeaways from "Land Use Connection Breakfast Briefing on Combatting NIMBYism"

  1. Present multiple design choices to communities: As Doug Farr mentioned, by presenting multiple design options, you’re less likely to get a complete denial of the project and to arrive at a consensus. And, show people what they’re asking for. Sometimes the community thinks they know what they want, but once they can visualize it and see the data, they might come to realize that what they’re asking for isn’t reasonable.

  2. Create a website: As Stephen Ross mentioned during his great tips section, one fantastic idea is to get feedback from neighbors, allies, and opposition groups by creating a website that you consistently monitor and respond to as the project moves forward. And, make sure you’re collecting email addresses and sending updates about the website to folks who have attended the community meetings.

  3. Who is being represented: Be conscious of the fact that objectors might represent more than themselves. Make an effort to discern the real stakeholders.

  4. Engage immediate neighbors first: As Chris Dillion mentioned, the biggest threat to your project are your neighbors, and by reaching out to them immediately, you’re more likely to neutralize them early and show that you care about the impact of your project on them. Consider going to their homes and offering your personal contact information (cellphone number) to show that you their opinions are serious and matter to you.

  5. Show people what they’re asking for: Consider quantifying the level of support by understanding the level of support the community has for the project (via informal voting), so you can better assess your political capital.

  6. Systemic Challenges Remain: As Emily Talen mentioned, despite knowing that public engagement, relationship building, and community education are key, there still remains an alarming lack of political and organizational infrastructure to make the process smoother and get buy-in where it is most needed.

  7. Three feedback loops: Don’t get discouraged if it takes several rounds of community outreach before reaching a consensus with the community. It often takes three or more rounds to hit the mark.

  8. Avoid large groups: If you have to present in front of a large group of people, consider breaking the audience into smaller subgroups, if possible. Also, consider conducting design charrettes where participants are broken out into small groups.

  9. Be more than a developer: The word “developer” isn’t always the most appreciated term, but by being personable, reliable, and by connecting with concerned neighbors on their level, the stigma is likely to lessen. And make sure you’re not hiding behind your consultants. Be present and active in your outreach efforts.

  10. Limit your entitlement requests: Don’t shoot for the sky. Be reasonable and you’re more likely to overcome community resistance.

© 2021 Foley & Lardner LLPNational Law Review, Volume VII, Number 123
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About this Author

Matthew Gomez-Mesquita, Foley Lardner Law Firm, Land Use Planner
Land Use Planner

Matthew Gomez is a land use planner with Foley & Lardner LLP, where he is a member of the Zoning and Land Use team within the Real Estate Practice at the firm’s Chicago office.

Mr. Gomez brings keen insight into the planning process, having previously worked as a planner and project manager for the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation and the Naval Facilities Engineering Command in Washington, D.C.

312-832-4763
Michael Noonan, Foley Lardner Law Firm, Real Estate Attorney
Special Counsel

Michael Noonan is a special counsel and real estate business lawyer with Foley & Lardner LLP. He focuses his practice on obtaining land use and zoning entitlements and working to build consensus between property owners, government officials, and community groups.

Mr. Noonan has experience in a wide variety of land use matters, including driving the site acquisition and permitting processes for a large-scale wireless communication construction project, assisting with eminent domain proceedings in Illinois and managing property tax appeals for...

312-832-5119
Donna Pugh, Foley Lardner Law Firm, Real Estate and Business Attorney
Partner

Donna J. Pugh is a partner and real estate business lawyer with Foley & Lardner LLP where she focuses on obtaining land use and zoning entitlements on behalf of her retail, health care and corporate clients. With her approach of bridging the gap between client, civic and municipal needs, Ms. Pugh has an exceptionally high success rate of securing necessary approvals for land development projects in the Chicago area. She is a member of the firm’s Real Estate Practice and Health Care Industry Team.

312-832-4596
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