As planners, we probably see the "economic development" carrot being dangled in the face of our communities to justify community-opposed land development more than most other members of society. This issue has always irked me.
I am sure we all have examples of this in our hometowns. One current development that is underway locally here in Hawaii that has received monumental community resistance is the development and opening of a 130,000 square foot Target in Kailua. For information, refer to this brief article that adequately explains the situation http://honoluluweekly.com/cover/2011/01/off-target/. What I find particularly interesting about this case is that the community isn't interested in the carrot. They consistently and adamantly reject the carrot and want Target to stay away, but Target just keeps dangling it and using the creation of 250 jobs in the area as justification for going against the community's wishes and has even gone so far as to threaten litigation against the chair of the local neighborhood board for stating that he does not support the development because it goes against the area's sustainable communities plan (which, unfortunately, has no teeth).
I'd love to hear some thoughts on this situation from other communities. Has a similar situation ever occurred in your town? How did you handle it? Did the development go through? Was the community able to claim any victories in the process? When there is no legally defensible precedent for denying development rights, how does a community defend itself from continually being developed?