“Our community is in desperate need of housing.” That was the straightforward assertion of an emergency Call For Action addressed to North Carolina’s Cumberland County Board of Commissioners, which was proposing a ninety-day moratorium on construction of zero-lot housing. The local Longleaf Pine REALTORS® launched the effort through the REALTOR® Party’s Advocacy Everywhere program, and the response from REALTOR® members sent a clear message to elected officials about the damage that such a ban would do to the already dwindling dream of homeownership in the region.
As Angie Hedgepeth, the association’s Government Affairs Director, explains, the county, which includes the city of Fayetteville, was being pressured by a small number of ‘NIMBY’ residents to eliminate zero lot line development and regulate lot-size to one or two acres per house. “The proposed moratorium was to give the planning board time to consider these substantial changes to the subdivision ordinance. It’s one thing to pause, but to stop all construction for ninety days -?! Meanwhile,” she says, “we are already concerned about the shrinking housing inventory in the county, and how that affects our economic growth. Developers want to build the highest possible density housing, but these regulations could discourage them from building at all. Landowners won’t get the highest prices for their property either,” she adds; “When farmers down here are ready to retire, if their children don’t want to take over the farm, that land is their retirement. We’re all about protecting private property rights.”
Because the commissioners slid the proposal in at a quiet meeting with low attendance, hoping no one would notice, says Hedgepeth, the timing was tight. “It was very much an emergency! We formed a coalition with our allies at the Home Builders Association and got right to work.” She recalled learning about Advocacy Everywhere, one of the tools in the REALTOR® Party toolbox, and made the phone call to NAR. “It was nearly effortless!” she says. “They walked me through the process, and it couldn’t have been easier. We gave our members a heads-up because we’d never done a Call For Action, so they’d recognize it was an important message when it came through via email or REALTOR® Party Mobile Alert.”
Not only did they respond, but the REALTORS® showed up at the meeting in force. A Coldwell Banker trolley shuttled members from a remote parking lot, and the meeting room was filled beyond capacity to overflowing. The Executive Officer of the local Home Builders Association passed out stickers that said ‘Jobs=Houses.’ After the hearing, the vote on the measure tied three-to-three.
“The CFA was one of the main reasons it failed to pass,” says Hedgepeth. “I have never seen something work so fast to get the word out. One of the commissioners actually told me, ‘I’ll never forget that day – my inbox was so full!’” With the immediate threat out of the way, the REALTORS® are now working with the Home Builders Association and the planning board to address a new ordinance. “It’s still a struggle, and will be a continuing effort,” she notes, “but this has actually spurred some really good dialogue with the county.”
To learn more about how the Longleaf Pine REALTORS® are helping to protect the dream of homeownership in the heart of North Carolina, contact Government Affairs Director Angie Hedgepeth at firstname.lastname@example.org or 910.323.1421.
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