This post has been updated.
Communities experiencing population growth are creating both opportunities and challenges for home builders. The Northshore Builders Association (NHBA) in Lacombe, La., recently improved a rezoning proposal that would have restricted residential development for six months with the possibility of an extension.
Earlier this year, the president of St. Tammany's parish council proposed a parish-wide moratorium on rezoning parcels to restrict increasing density for residential development. The moratorium, according to the president, was in response to the lagging infrastructure and the need to make progress on local land use plans.
If adopted, any requests to rezone any property or parcel to residential zoning would be limited to densities no greater than one unit per acre. The restriction would be in place for six months but could be extended, in six-month intervals, by a council vote.
"It's just going to create more problems for the people who live here that do need a home," said Bubba Jenkins, a local home builder to a local CBS affiliate.
In response to the draconian measure, the NHBA launched a strategic and multifaceted campaign to educate local elected officials and citizens on how the moratorium would hamper, not help the local community.
NHBA partnered with the Northshore Business Council and the St. Tammany Chamber of Commerce to obtain a legal opinion on the proposed moratorium. Kyle Cooper, president of NHBA, published a letter to the editor outlining why the moratorium would exacerbate local housing affordability and economic challenges.
NHBA members and leaders also made several compelling parish council presentations and provided testimonials during meetings leading up to the final council vote.
"This moratorium will hurt our industry, the subcontractors, the suppliers, the bankers, the plumbers, the electricians," said Amy Ybarzabal, executive director, NHBA during a council meeting. "Lots are too scarce, supplies costs are too high, and homes are already too expensive to require one home per acre."
Ultimately, the council adopted an amended version that shortened the moratorium to three months and would allow rezoning requests of up to four houses per acre. Ybarzabal says the amended ordinance is a balanced approach but the fight is not over. NHBA plans to continue outreach to local officials and the community to reinforce how the local residential construction industry works to promote and protect the American dream of homeownership.
Read more about NHBA's opposition to the proposed residential building moratorium in Biz New Orleans.