NIMBY hits close to home

  • Article by: DAVID BANKS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 24, 2012 - 7:45 PM

One of the problems with voicing opinions about how other people should behave is that eventually one's consistency will be called to account -- in the most intimate way possible.

Such is the case with "not in my back yard," the chorus that seems to arise following the emergence of almost any proposal to build anything, anywhere.

I've long been critical of this cri de couer -- which of course is easy to say from a safe distance, and even easier to say in English -- but now that my next-door neighbor has sold her house to developers, I'm about to be put to the test.

In my part of southwest Minneapolis, it's not unusual for older, smaller houses to vanish one day and be replaced within weeks by the framework of a much larger dwelling. Sometimes there's an effort to make the new home complement the neighborhood.

But other times these structures claim every square inch of land and sky, lording over their surroundings to a degree that would make a caricature of the McMansion concept look quaint.

I don't view such houses as a good use of urban space. In addition to clashing with the character of a neighborhood, they are in spirit antithetical to the mixed-use, high-density vitality that my suburban corner of the city is so sorely lacking.

It was for the latter goal that I was in favor of the erstwhile five-story development proposal in Linden Hills, a project that many people successfully opposed as being out of proportion. (Minneapolis -- where no surface parking goes unspared.) Then again, it was a good mile away from me.

The planning next door is in the early stages, so I don't really know what's going to go up. Could be a Craftsman. (Wouldn't that be unique!) Or it could be Don Shelby's environmentally sensitive second home. Or a strip club. Or a stadium. (Which would be OK. My house is not a cathedral.)

Whatever it ends up being, this new construction is likely to drive up my property value, compensating me for any inconvenience. (Something about that seems oddly familiar.)

As for my neighbor, I'll miss her cheerfulness and her occasional tendency to break out in song -- but I won't miss her leaf blower.

In fact, that particular implement of excoriation is something I would never allow. Not in my back yard.

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David Banks, assistant commentary editor.

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