125 arguments and techniques opponents use to derail a real estate project — Part 1

The Saint ReportPlanning and Zoning, Politicians and Planning, Saint Consulting Links, saintblog, Thought Leadership

By Patrick Fox,
President, The Saint Consulting Group

The Saint Consulting Group often does seminars for trade associations, client real estate departments and other groups. A popular topic is “How to Kill a Real Estate Project”. By learning the techniques that opposition groups utilize to derail a project, developers can learn how to avoid common mistakes and identify plan weaknesses.

The various strategic opposition topics and arguments that can be used for opposing projects have been grouped into 12 categories. The Saint Report will publish Part 1 today — looking at traffic, school, noise and dust issues and threats to the character of the community. In Part 2, we will look at wetlands, environmental, community and infrastructure concerns:

A. It would cause a traffic nightmare on already over-burdened streets
1. Neighbors will never be able to get out of their driveways.

2. Left turns will be impossible.

3. Children/elderly will be endangered.

4. Emergency vehicles will be unable to get through.

5. Traffic queues will be unacceptably long and block neighboring intersections.

6. Air quality will decline precipitously; contaminant pollution will be serious, if not life threatening, especially to asthmatics.

7. Oil and gasoline dripping will pollute the ground water.

8. The proponent’s traffic study is unreliable; an independent study is needed.

9. The intersection is already at LOS F; the proponent should be required to bring it and all affected intersections to LOS A.

10. The “no build” scenario is meaningless, since there can be no doubt the proponent’s project will generate at least 5,000 trips/day.

11. Area streets are already beyond capacity.

12. Store customers will use residential side streets as shortcuts.

13. The proponent should be required to build stacking lanes, crosswalks, retaining walls, sidewalks, and install traffic signals and pedestrian lights.

14. The proponent’s entry/exit plan is inadequate and poorly designed.

15. The proponent’s parking lot traffic circulation plan is inadequate and dangerous.

16. The city should declare a building moratorium until we can deal with the issue of over-development and the traffic and environmental stress it causes.

17. The state is thinking of rebuilding this stretch of highway; no new projects should be started until plans are complete.

school trafficB Huge tractor-trailer trucks would pass in front of the elementary school

1. Children will dart into the street and be run over.

2. Noise from trucks will disturb school classes.

3. Truck exhaust and dust will blow into the playground.

4. Traffic and trucks will make it dangerous for school buses trying to pick up and drop off children.

5. Parents driving youngsters to and from school will find it impossible to turn into the school driveway or exit.

6. Trucks should be re-routed to avoid the school, even if this means that the proponent has to buy land and get it rezoned in order to provide a back access road to the site.

7. The proponent must be required to install a pedestrian-activated crossing light and crosswalk in front of the school and to rebuild and extend the sidewalks in the area.

8. Proponent should be required to pay linkage contributions to reconstruct the school playground and ball field.

C. The site is too close to the nursing home

1. Seniors would be endangered trying to cross the street.

2. The noise and dust of traffic would stress the patients.

3. Air pollution from auto exhausts will endanger the health of senior citizens.

4. The proponent’s suggestion that seniors would talk to the store to shop is absurd. They can’t carry groceries; they couldn’t stand the exhaust fumes; and they’d never make it across the street with cars whizzing back and forth.

5. Trucks should either be re-routed or deliveries should be limited in frequency and hours.

D. Noise and dust would be a nuisance

noise dust1. Neighbors won’t be able to open their windows on warm summer nights with all the traffic noise.

2. Air quality will seriously deteriorate on muggy summer nights because of temperature inversion. Proponent should be required to close on any day when the Air Quality Index is projected to be high.

3. Huge trucks will be left idling at the loading docks all night long.

4. Deliveries will be made late at night and in the wee hours, waking neighbors and creating nervous insomniacs.

5. Children cannot do well in school unless they get a good night’s sleep.

6. Cleaning bills will skyrocket as dust and dirt penetrates homes and covers drapes and curtains.

7. Asthma- sufferers must not be subjected to the dust. The proponent should be required to install an air filtration system on any neighborhood home in which an asthmatic lives or visits.

8. The proponent should be required to enclose the loading docks and air conditioning/refrigeration units.

9. The air conditioning/refrigeration units should be re-designed off the roof and installed in a soundproof shed at the back of the building.

10. Cedar fencing and large arborvitaes should be required to protect the residential neighborhoods.

11. Deliveries should be limited to 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., and none on Sunday; and no more than four delivery trucks, whether owned by proponent or vendors, should be allowed to enter the site in any 24-hour period.

12. The store should be forbidden to open earlier than 7:30 a.m., and required to close by 11 p.m. On Sundays, it shouldn’t open till noon so as not to interfere with church going, and should close by 6 p.m.

E. Lights and noise will disturb the neighbors at night

1. Parking lot lights must be sufficient in number to prevent crime, yet aimed low enough so as not to reflect in people’s bedroom windows.

2. The entrance and exit must be re-designed so that automobile lights will not reflect on residential neighborhoods.

3. The proponent should be required to install high fencing and trees to keep light from reflecting into the neighborhood.

4. The proponent should be required to close the store by 11 p.m.

5. The proponent should be required to provide on-site security either by hiring a security company or detail police.

6. The proponent’s burglar alarm must be of the “silent” type so as not to wake neighbors.

7. Proponent must be required to patrol the parking lot and grounds each morning before opening the store and to remove any litter, glass, debris, or unsightly materials.

8. Proponent must be required to post signs in the parking area against all-night parking, and must make contractual arrangements with a towing service to remove any vehicle found on site between midnight and 7 a.m.

9. The proponent must devise a plan for keeping non-handicapped motorists from using the handicapped parking spaces.

F. The project would destroy the residential character of the neighborhood

1. Traffic, noise and pollution and fumes are not compatible with the area.

2. Neighbors have a right to raise their children in safety.

3. Homeowners bought homes here for peace and quiet.

4. Property values will be destroyed.

5. Although the site is on a major street, the area is not developed and residential areas back up to the site.

6. High-tension wires, dumpsters and loading docks are an attractive nuisance to children.

7. We don’t need another supermarket; there’s another one 1/2 mile away.

8. The store is far too big. It should be cut by 1/3 to 1/2 in size.

9. This area was zoned as it is to preserve our neighborhood. No zoning change or variance or any kind that would change the character of the area is acceptable.

10. This project is just going to create another teen hangout, with drugs, beer bottles smashed in the street, litter, screeching car tires, and foul language being yelled at all hours of the night. The proponent must prepare a plan to address this issue before any consideration is given to his plan.

11. The neighborhood should not be subjected to the odor of garbage. The proponent should be required to fully enclose all dumpsters and have them emptied at least twice per week.

12. The proponent’s charitable and civic contributions in other communities do not justify destroying our neighborhood.

13. The proponent’s provision for green space set-asides and landscape plans are woefully inadequate.

14. The proponent’s architectural design is not in keeping with the character of the neighborhood. The mass must be lowered and the footprint reduced.

15. Construction of this store will bring platoons of huge trucks and construction equipment into our residential neighborhood all summer.

16. Construction must not begin before 8 a.m, and must end at 4 pm. No Sunday work.

17. Blasting for construction will destroy the neighbors’ peace of mind and crack their foundations, besides covering their cars, homes and furniture with stone dust and subjecting their children to frightening noise and quaking. Proponent must be required to post a $1 million bond to meet damage claims from blasting, must promptly settle all claims within 30 days; and must hire a housecleaning company to be on call to clean homes and cars. Proponent must notify residents in writing and in the newspaper of the days on which blasting will occur. At least two hours before actual blasting, proponent must personally notify each homeowner within a 3/4-mile radius in person or by phone. The total period of blasting, from the first blast to the last, shall not exceed one hour in any given day.

In Part 2, we will look wetlands, environmental, community and infrastructure concerns.

Patrick Fox is president of The Saint Consulting Group, email fox@tscg.biz, phone 781 836-4163