The Meter is Running
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Build relationships with legislators throughout the year.
AUTHORPhyllis H. Weisberg
The time spent getting to know legislators relevant to a co-op or condo’s issues can reap significant rewards down the road.
Co-op and condo boards are often so busy running their buildings that they fail to reach out beyond their immediate world. Yet boards and their counsel would be well served by developing a relationship with local elected officials – particularly city and state legislators. That point was brought home recently for some of our clients.
For several years we have been assisting several co-ops in residential neighborhoods to try to curtail commercial – and, consequently, incompatible – businesses in their midst. We have reached out to local elected officials on behalf of our clients and, on a number of occasions, we have met with those officials and our clients.
In one particular situation, a business operator that had lost in court appealed to the state legislature on repeated occasions to be allowed to operate as the owners wished. On each occasion, the community was successful – with the help of elected officials – in stopping this effort. Most recently, on the very last day of the session in Albany, we were notified by one of the state legislators who knew us that a “private” bill had again been “sneaked in” for the benefit of this business operator.
Had this legislator not been aware of the community’s concerns, and had we not established a relationship with this legislator, we would not have been notified. And, in all likelihood, given the vagaries of Albany at the end of session, this bill would have been enacted without scrutiny, to the serious detriment of the community. Given advance notice – albeit only a matter of hours – we were able to launch a telephone campaign to shed light on what was happening and to prevent the bill from being enacted.
The time we spent in getting to know the relevant legislators reaped significant rewards. In other cases, rewards may not be as momentous as being able to stop legislation in its tracks, but building a relationship with elected officials can help in a variety of ways. It does not take much time to develop these relationships, and it is definitely time well spent