More unwarranted assumptions that put developers’ projects in political jeopardy

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By P. Michael Saint,
Chairman and CEO, The Saint Consulting Group

Earlier this week, we saw in Part 1 some assumptions by developers that can lead to negative political outcomes. Here are more unwarranted assumptions that developers make that put their project in political jeopardy.

  • Assuming opponents care about the features and benefits of a project. Nimbys fear a new project will hurt them or their lifestyle and will not believe or care about what the developer says are benefits to the community from the project. Those who oppose a project because of environmental or economic motives will ignore the developer’s recitation of benefits as well.
  • Assuming favorable press coverage will lead to a governmental approval. Good stories, when they come, seldom deliver supporters to meetings to speak in favor of a proposal. More often they motivate opponents or even worse, encourage opponents to organize against the project in the first place.
  • Assuming that inviting neighbors to a meeting to describe a new project will be a positive step to take. In most cases, a public meeting will just lead to a public attack of the project by its biggest critics and work to introduce opponents to each other for the first time.
  • Assuming that involving neighbors in the planning process with a charette will reduce opposition. This is almost never the case, especially when the developer decides to ignore the input of those participating, thus turning them into informed opponents.
  • Assuming that backroom conversations will be enough to win over and keep a majority of the elected officials whose votes are needed. These days politicians vote for or against a project based on how they perceive public opinion. Will a “yes” vote hurt or help their political prospects for re-election? Those perceptions often do change in an instant, for example, when they enter a public meeting and see hundreds of their constituents holding “VOTE NO” signs.

Mike Saint is chairman and CEO, The Saint Consulting Group, email