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Motorhome owners' rights: testifying

Advice that can help you to achieve satisfying results when conveying your views at a public hearing.

Bring friends with you
Of course, these friends should agree with your point of view. It can be especially helpful to bring supporters who do not own an RV.

Be prepared
Have your testimony ready in written form so you can read it and not ramble on. Provide a copy for each member of the panel listening to you and two copies for the staff to keep on record.

Identify yourself
Before starting your testimony, state where you live, how long you have lived in the community, and how long you have owned an RV.

Keep your comments to the point
Show that you are a responsible resident who cares about the safety of the community and its aesthetics. Be on the public's side, and agree that any violations should be handled but that legislation affecting the entire RV community is overkill.

Emphasize the impact of the RV community
Point out the size of the RV community in your municipality and the tax base RV owners represent, not only in RV tax or registration fees but in the homes they own. Do this tastefully, not as a threat but as a reminder that the people whom the proposed legislation will affect are a significant and prominent part of the community and their rights need to be evaluated along with the rights of others.

Be ready to rebut
Bring note paper and take notes on other testimony given. After the initial round of testimony, if you find anything that has been said to the detriment of your cause, ask for time to rebut. If the hearing is properly held, the chair should never refuse a rebuttal. They may refuse additional testimony but never a rebuttal.

Present your opposition to what has been said by others where you feel it misrepresents your cause. Catch the opposition off guard, and they will probably not stand up to rebut your rebuttal.

If you speak a second time and say that it is additional testimony, the opposition will get the idea they can do the same. But, if you call your second round a rebuttal, the opposition usually will be at a loss as to how to handle this, unless they are knowledgeable with the process.

Don't let your issue drop
After the the hearing, follow up with e-mail or postal mail with the officials who listened to testimony and who may not yet have decided how to vote. The vote, in most cases, is either to recommend a zoning change for enactment or not to.

Be careful not to introduce new facts
After a public hearing is closed, public officials cannot listen to nor consider new information. However, start your communication with word to the effect that “This is a review of my testimony.” Then, highlight the areas where you feel they may not have heard what you were saying.

A final reminder
Always be polite and factual. And always keep personal emotion out of the discussion.

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