Customized State Smart Growth Legislation Program

The Customized State Smart Growth Legislation Program provides assistance to state REALTOR® associations that wish to take the lead in writing and introducing legislation to help the state better address the challenges of growth and improve local communities. NAR will offer, at a reduced rate to the state association, the services of respected land use law firm, Robinson & Cole, to draft state legislation on Smart Growth issues. (Examples might include new zoning enabling legislation, requirements for local planning, changes in subdivision law, or open space protection.) These proposals must be related to land use and smart growth, and should involve issues that can gain support from a constituency beyond REALTORS®. If your association is ready to become a leader in finding solutions to growth concerns, give NAR’s Smart Growth staff a call to discuss the possibilities.

What does the program provide?

  • Drafting by experienced land use attorneys of legislation to achieve specific ends identified by the state REALTOR® association
  • Advice on legislative strategy
  • Development of talking points
  • Assistance with coalition development
  • Limited direct lobbying

What does the program cost?

The state REALTOR® association and NAR share the cost on a 50/50 basis for services provided under this program.

What is the state REALTOR® association expected to do?

  • Fully commit to a legislative campaign
  • Identify specific objectives the legislation is to achieve
  • Appoint a legislative committee or task force (if none already exists)
  • Participate in strategy and coalition development
  • Secure bill sponsor
  • Organize member contact teams to lobby legislators

Has the program been successful?

The examples below describe successful efforts in three states. The results are as follows:

South Carolina Legislation - South Carolina Vested Rights Act
In 2004, making use of NAR’s Customized State Legislation Program, the South Carolina Association of REALTORS® had a bill drafted, introduced, and passed that establishes vested rights for land development projects. This bill is important in giving stability to the land development process and assurance that investments in planning, engineering, grading, and other site improvements won’t be nullified by changing development regulations. The vested right means that development may proceed according to the development regulations that were in place when the plans were first approved.

The South Carolina Association’s objectives were met by bill provisions that establish:

  • Vesting at an early stage, i.e. approval of a site specific development plan or phased development plan.
  • Two-year vesting periods for site specific plans and five-year periods for phased development plans.
  • Opportunity for at least five annual extensions of the vested right after expiration of the initial right.
  • The vested right as a property right, not a personal right, and is conveyed with the property title.
  • Requirements that local governments amend their development regulations to comply with the Vested Rights Act.
  • Procedures for establishing vested rights in communities that have not adopted development regulations.
  • Vested rights that also pertain to conditional approvals.
  • Limitations on the effect of overlay zoning requirements applied after initial approval.
  • View the status of the South Carolina Vested Rights Act.

New Mexico Legislation
In 2003, three bills initiated by the REALTOR® Association of New Mexico under the program were introduced. Two have been signed into law.

  • Senate Bill 410 - Comprehensive Zoning Plans (Passed 2003)
  • Senate Bill 438 - Prohibit Merger of Contiguous Land Parcels (Passed 2003)
  • Senate Bill 435 - Clarify "Subdivision" in New Mexico Subdivision Act

Massachusetts Legislation
In 2003, three bills initiated by the Massachusetts Association of REALTORS® under the program were introduced.

  • House Bill 3816 — An Act To Authorize Zoning Density Bonuses To Promote Housing Production.
  • House Bill 3817 — An Act To Authorize Limited Rate Of Growth Controls And To Promote Housing Production.
  • House Bill 3819 — An Act Providing For More Efficient Wetlands Protection By Avoiding Unnecessary Duplication In Local Wetlands Ordinances Or By-Laws

How do we get started?


Joe Molinaro, NAR
Phone: 202-365-1175
Fax: 202-365-7580

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