NIMBYism in Clemmons

The Clemmons planning board voted to recommend against a proposed 108-unit apartment community, and their meeting was overflowing with residents opposed to the project. The board cited the developer’s refusal to improve the right-of-way or to add more integrated uses to its plans as the reason for voting against the rezoning, but neighbors cited their own concerns about the nature of the apartments in and of themselves when they spoke against the project. From the Winston-Salem Journal:

Tony Smith, acting on behalf of his family, said he would like to sell the land for the apartments to Mills Construction of Raleigh, which manages about 38 properties, mostly in eastern North Carolina…

The apartments, Smith said, would help meet a need for more affordable housing in Clemmons…

Paul Whitener, representing 300 houses in the Old Meadowbrook Homeowners Association, said his group would not support apartments for that property, saying they are concerned about trespassing and the impact on local schools.

“There are several things we could support,” he said, naming such things as single-family homes, a small-scale retirement community and a small-scale mixed-use development that would combine businesses and residences.

Smith said after the meeting he plans to present information to the council that shows the lack of affordable housing in Clemmons.

“People think this is subsidized housing, and it’s not,” Smith said.

Can NIMBYism Lead to a Gen Y Brain Drain?

The state of Massachusetts has a real problem – they’re losing many of the coveted demographic of young professionals due to a lack of available apartments. From the article:

Though the production of more rental units is integral to the growth of the state, many communities, namely single-family strongholds, are still staunchly against multifamily projects. But the lack of rental units across the state is starting to cause something of a brain drain among the Gen Y crowd.

“We’re trying to break a stalemate,” Massachusetts’ housing and economic development secretary Gregory Bialecki said at an Urban Land Institute forum in January. “The approach the state has taken is what I call an ‘eat your veggies’ strategy. ‘I know you don’t want this, but it’s necessary.’ It hasn’t been effective.”

The state already lost a congressional district in 2010 after seeing just moderate census numbers, and multifamily starts have been down. So far, Boston’s scheduled completions are well short of the state’s 10,000 unit starts per year goal—the city’s inventory will grow roughly 1.5 percent this year as it sees about 6,500 completions…

A big part of that education process is changing the perception of multifamily in NIMBY-heavy areas. Municipalities should view the production of apartments as integral to the state’s future  as roads and bridges. The state is working to create a prompt and predictable permitting process

Moving to the Nuisance

For apartment developers it’s an all too common occurrence to hear people say “We need higher density development, as long as it isn’t anywhere near my house.”  Because of their familiarity with NIMBYism those who are in the development side of the apartment industry will probably get a kick out of this story about people moving to the nuisance and then complaining:

Yesterday I learned of a recent battle in Mecklenburg County that interested me partly because it involved neighbors’ complaints of farm odors and an environmentally-needed, green, recycling operation where everything from leaves, to vegetables to animal waste is converted into the mulch and soil materials you buy at any garden store.

And it also interested me because it was a classic “move to the nuisance and then complain” story.  In this case, all the complaining neighbors moved into subdivisions that sprang up around the already existing farm operation and then complained that manure and natural organic mulching odors are objectionable.

You can read about Wallace Farms here.  Their seven-generation farm operation (dating back to 1863) has grown and expanded over the years, and it was no secret that it existed.  And you can read about some of its battles with the City of Charlotte and NC DENR that began with complaints from neighbors at this link.