Community Relations and Education Campaign for Luxury Auto Dealership

town meeting approval
Community Relations and Education Campaign for Luxury Auto Dealership

The Challenge: Secure town approval for a text amendment to a zoning bylaw.

For more than three decades, Herb Chambers’ luxury dealership at 64 Cambridge Street in Burlington, MA has been one of the most successful locations in the company’s portfolio.

When a corporate mandate called for the separation of the combined Audi/Porsche dealership, Herb Chambers needed to convince Town Meeting members—by a two-thirds vote which is difficult to obtain—to approve zoning variances for the construction of another dealership on the same property.

Some residents believed that section of Cambridge Street was in danger of becoming an “auto mile,” while others complained that the text amendment Herb Chambers was seeking constituted spot zoning. Herb Chambers retained Schneider Associates (SA) to enhance the reputation of the project and communicate with Town Meeting members who would be voting on the issue.

Our Approach: A community relations and education campaign designed to inform Burlington Town Meeting Members and Town Officials of the text amendment benefits.

Burlington Town Meeting Members, town leaders and planners had to approve plans for a dealership split. SA embarked on a community relations and education campaign designed to inform voters and influencers in Town about the financial benefits associated with splitting the dealership. SA’s team was able to create a dialogue with voters via a quick hitting outreach effort, which included telephone outreach, letters, and emails as well as door-to-door canvassing. Additionally, the development team orchestrated a series of presentations for the Planning Board and engaged in conversations with key members of the Board of Selectmen.

SA launched the campaign to influence Town Meeting Members while creating a forum to promote the various benefits Burlington would gain from this project.  As the public process proceeded, a meaningful and productive private and public relationship was established.

SA launched conducted a comprehensive “get out the vote” campaign to ensure Burlington Town Meeting Members, including project supporters, were well represented at Town Meeting.

The Result:  Despite extending into a third session, the development team secured the two-thirds vote.

As the development team became more integrated with the Town of Burlington, it was clear there was mostly positive sentiment for the Herb Chambers warrant article. Despite the presence of a small number of detractors, SA’s campaign resulted in a public narrative that was delivered to Town Meeting members factually, personally, and in a timely manner so voters could clearly identify the increased tax benefits the Town would receive.

The Warrant Article ultimately garnered enough votes to pass, allowing Herb Chambers to separate the Audi and Porsche dealerships and continue operating in the Town of Burlington.

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