Question: How do I know which key points to push when making a public comment against an industry?

stevie is asking a question about advocacy
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by stevie | February 22, 2017 20:38 | #13952

What I want to do or know

My group is fighting an industry that's been a bane in our community's side for a long time. They are planning on growing and we have once chance to appeal this proposed growth. We have a lot of people against this and we're trying to figure out the best way to approach our public comment. We're mainly thinking about:

  • With the bureaucratic system we're dealing with, what are the key points to focus on in the hearing?
  • Should we all make the same key points, or task different individuals for making different points?
  • Are there any good tips, things we should do, or things we should particularly avoid?

Background story

I am posting on behalf of a community member who came forward with this question


There is a great resource on Public Comment on this wiki.

I have heard of groups who divide up the key points and have different people focus in on them from both a research standpoint, and an advocacy standpoint at the hearing. For example dividing up so different people focus on:

  • the economic side - costs born by community, such as externalities of road degradation the trucks might cause, drop in value of housing and tax revenue lost from converting zoning areas.
  • the major environmental concerns from the degradation side, such as the major polluting concerns and loss of good quality air, water, and land.
  • environmental concerns from the human health side, for example any hazardous materials used or produced and how they put human health at risk.
  • the cultural effects of the industry- for example, how it changes the residential character of the neighborhood, quietness and enjoyment loss.
  • Safety concerns - for example, increases in traffic, does it affect the bus route? will it affect where people bike, or walk.
  • Any others specific to your community?

It's good to divide people up based on their interests and local expertise. People's personal stories are really valuable in speaking towards what they know and personally care about. Think about how well a new mother knows and cares about the character of the community she raises her children in, or how well a nurses can speak to health hazards, your local estate agent could be a good advocate about property costs declining. Those are just some ideas and ways to divide up what can be a daunting workload, and can also show some passion and expertise on all sides of your arguments.

Other ideas:

  • I've seen people do is find out if the town has a planning board master plan or something similar and look into if this new development violates what the town outlines. It's helpful to show how what they've written in their interests for the town would not be protected under the proposed industry expansion.
  • if you can find examples of how have other people and places have been negatively affected by the expansion, it's good supporting evidence for your arguments.

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