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Thread: Tough love for the NIMBY crowd

  1. #1
    Cyburbian el Guapo's avatar
    Oct 2001

    Tough love for the NIMBY crowd

    In addition to being an ace planner by day, I'm also a planning commissioner by night. Last night we had a typical case of a guy owning a fairly worthless flag lot with big elevation changes coming in to get a zoning change to commercial. The site is currently R-1 and it is bordered by R1 to one side and C3 on the other. It has the skinny part of the "L" adjoining the largest commercial strip in town.

    Clearly this site had minimal R1 usage due to its layout and location. But on the other hand the C3 use would have been of little attractiveness to any developer due to the dirt work required, shape, and lack of any significant frontage in a town where frontage is king.

    Its only real use would be as adjunct land to one of two neighboring commercial businesses. i.e. Parking or maybe room for a small building expansion. The lot is also covered with trees and acts a good barrier for the two subdivisions it borders. The lot was cut out of one of the afore mentioned residential subdivisions to avoid notification requirements to a known foe of one of the commerical developments. The flag lot is clearly a self-inflicted developer wound.

    The residential areas it borders are easily in the top 1/3 in value of all R1 areas in town. Homes are in the $140K range and above. The parade of "I'm agin it's" folks appear as soon as the public hearing is opened. And true to form we hear 15 people tell us "it?s always been woods since 1971 and this fellow should keep it that way for us.'


    The applicant obviously wants to work out a deal where by he sells the land to the neighbors. He asks for a postponement in the "speak for the project" portion of the public hearing before the neighbors had their say.

    It is clear to me that he also doesn't want to screw them. I believe he paid his $1800 for a public hearing in front of the commission so that he could get their attention. It worked.

    One of the neighbors says he'd like to talk to the land owner about working a deal after we sat through the 15 5-minute sessions where everyone says the same thing. Anyway, his comments piss off some of the neighbors in a ?I aren?t a buying no land? way. One of the planning commission members makes a statement to the effect of ?this is a good idea and I hope you can work a deal.? But it is clear to me that the neighbors don?t think the board will approve any change to the zoning.

    That?s when I gave my little pep talk about how I think a person has the right to seek to develop their property within the rules of the city. And as it stands I would vote in favor of the zoning change when it comes to a vote next month unless a deal is worked out. Sort of a bad cop approach. I didn?t think the neighbors would think the planning commission was seriously going to consider voting in favor of the change because in their understanding of the process having the developer out numbered is what will sway the board.

    In my humble planner opinion the land, while it makes a wonderful buffer is far more contiguous with the C-3. I then incorporated the phrase, "If you want to keep the view you need to buy the view." I guess it was tough love planning for a town that likes to shout down people they disagre with. You should have heard the gasp's. "How dare he talk to us that way" was the general gasp consensus. And I was actually in public personal polite mode when I said it.

    That was when the little old lady cat called from the crowd, ?You?re stupid.? My skin is now much thicker than in my 20's and 30?s when I would have cat called back. But it begs the question for my fellow planning commissioners, have you ever had the slightest desire to see the NIMBY?s get what they deserve? :banghead:
    el Guapo is a former 20 year +/- urban planner (just like you) who thought becoming an attorney was a good life choice.

  2. #2
    maudit anglais
    May 1997
    Originally posted by el Guapo@Jan 28 2005, 09:36 AM
    But it begs the question for my fellow planning commissioners, have you ever had the slightest desire to see the NIMBY?s get what they deserve? :banghead:
    I'm not a planning commissioner, though I play one on TV.

    We have a little thing here called the "Ontario Municipal Board", which can rule on planning matters if someone makes an appeal. On more than one occasion a project has been approved over vocal NIMBY opposition. It's a double-edged sword though really - it's just as often that a project will get approved when it's the municipality objecting.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Plus PlannerGirl's avatar
    Mar 2002
    Yes Guap NIMBYs drive me nuts and I do enjoy seeing them get their due. Sounds like you handed this case VERY VERY well. :clap:
    "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." Ben Franklin

    Remember this motto to live by: "Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, martini in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming 'WOO- HOO what a ride!'"

  4. #4
    Jun 2004
    Dennis, MA
    Out here we have something called Chapter 40B it is the ultimate screw to the NIMBY. You oppose a reasonable project, you just might get something much worse. Also had one project where they were going to put the picnic area for an assisted living project near a side property line, instead they got the garbage dumpster and delivery area.


  5. #5
    Cyburbian Plus
    Jun 2003
    Q. Would this get bad enough to reach the level of a SLAPP ?

  6. #6
    Jan 2003
    Santiago, Chile
    I really don't understand NIMBYs... they want everything THEIR way, but don't want to do anything FOR it... They're basically a bunch of egoistical idiots, and don't give a damn about anybody else. They invent stupid excuses to try to paralyze porjects and obstruct change.
    Apparently they don't understand that a city that doesn't change becomes stagnant in the end.
    Sure, it's not nice to have a landfill right besides your backyard or some heavy pollutant industry... but that's what zoning is for (even though ablarc doesn't like it)

    Oh well, NIMBYs do have their bright side... sometimes one wouldn't see some project flaws without them whinning about them, but the excessive NIMBYism is completely annoying.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian munibulldog's avatar
    Nov 2004
    Where 8 Mile hits Lake M1
    We just have psychotizens and hysterizens around here. :furious: :rugged: :patriot: :afro: :whippy:

    Nobody seems to care about the issues, just about flaking off in front of the big bad siddy gummint. :banme: :whippy: :arr: :grouphug: :protest:

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