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Published December 07 2013

Forum editorial: NIMBYs don’t have good case

It’s got to be the most peculiar example of NIMBY-ism Fargo has ever seen. NIMBY, you’ll recall, means “not in my backyard.” It’s an occasional affliction of homeowners and others who want to stymie development in order to preserve and protect their property and way of life, which, of course, was development in its time. It’s also one of the most selfish and often uninformed impediments to smart and necessary urban planning.

The latest NIMBY situation is particularly peculiar because of where it’s happening. Fargo has grown south into a district where the most prominent feature is the junction of Interstate 29 and 52nd Avenue South. For years, the area has been designated in zoning and planning documents (and news reports) for mixed uses, including single-family homes, apartments, retail, restaurants, office buildings and parklands. Networks of streets and utilities have been and are being installed in new projects on both sides of 52nd Avenue South.

Nothing about the area’s long-term plan has been a secret. Indeed, the major streets and roads (long before they were upgraded to multilane thoroughfares) have been festooned with signs announcing that the roadways would become high-traffic connectors to serve the growth. On 52nd, for example, the signs have been in place for about 15 years. Hard to miss.

In other words, one would have had to be dumb as a doorstop or happily delusional to not have known what was in store for the sprawling acreage on at least three quadrants of the I-29/52nd Avenue crossroad. What is happening out there now is precisely what was predicted – and planned.

(To be clear: Not everyone who lives in the area is upset or complaining. Many residents knew what was in the offing when they opted to live there, and are OK with it now.)

Choosing to live within shouting distance of a busy interstate highway intersection comes with consequences. Among them are commercial strips and big-box stores, more traffic and traffic noise, and a mix of residential options that might not conform to the snootiness of some so-called higher-end neighborhoods. It is reasonable to tweak or rejigger a development in order to make it more palatable. That’s a normal process for any big project. But for the NIMBY crowd to whine they were unaware of the potential for an explosion of development near

I-29 and 52nd – well, that’s cuttin’ the baloney pretty thick.

Forum editorials represent the opinion of Forum management and the newspaper’s Editorial Board.