Thursday, April 23, 2009

What Does "NIMBY" Mean?

By Michael Collins

The acronym “NIMBY” is used regularly in debates about land development to represent “Not In My Back Yard.” NIMBY development is something that, “though needed by the larger community, is considered unsightly, dangerous, or likely to lead to decreased property values.”1 Examples of this are prisons, airports, garbage dumps, and so on.

It is common for communities to come together to fight against the placement of a NIMBY facility in their neighborhood. While this is good for those residents, it can create a problem for the community. After all, garbage has to go somewhere. Unfortunately for citizens, if the NIMBY facility is not built somewhere in their vicinity, then they will lose access to important services. For example, cell phone towers are considered an eyesore, but without them, locals will lose their cell phone service. On the same note, there is great debate in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts over the Cape Wind project, which if allowed, will result in the construction of a wind farm in Nantucket Sound. Although it will provide clean, cheap and renewable energy to the state, property owners simply don’t want to be forced to look at it and have their property values go down.

The popularity of the term NIMBY has spawned several other acronyms with similar meanings, including NIABY (Not In Anyone’s Back Yard), and NAMBI (Not Against My Business or Industry). While their meanings are similar to that of NIMBY, they serve niche purposes of their own.

When it comes to support for NIMBY facilities, politicians must be careful, as support for the wrong thing can be political suicide.




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