Letter: Don’t let greed prevail | AspenTimes.com

Letter: Don’t let greed prevail

Over the past 40 years, I have planned several projects in Basalt for both public and private clients (Basalt River Corridor Plan, Elk Run, Stott’s Mill planned-unit devlopment, early work on The Roaring Fork Club and others). During that period, which preceded the 2008 recession, Basalt experienced rapid growth at a rate that alarmed many residents. In response, the community spawned vocal special-interest groups derogatorily termed NIMBYs (Not in my back yard). The concerns of most NIMBY groups are perfectly genuine. During the time I was actively engaged with the town, I anecdotally identified five specific interest groups, all entirely legitimate except the fifth as follows: • Lifestyle — Many residents live in Basalt for lifestyle reasons (security, cultural richness, convenience, neighborliness, amenities, etc.) and for whom any growth may be viewed as a lifestyle threat.

• Environment — Many folks have deeply passionate local and global environmental concerns whereby any development may have negative environmental consequences if not properly executed.

• Traffic Congestion — More traffic can be agonizing for family life, household budgets and even real estate values.

• Community Character — For those, views, sun access, quiet streets, open space and charm are fundamental to enduring community quality, thus creating opposition to any change.

• Greed — This group’s agenda is based on the assumption that limiting housing supply increases demand, presumably generating higher property values.

I know this lethal strategy to be factual as I’ve heard it articulated and discussed at informal gatherings, including tactics to recruit unsuspecting supporters. This divisive group regularly shapes a clever conspiracy, thwarting responsible growth with self-serving intractability often accompanied by threat of legal action. These individuals are known to some who advocate legitimate special interests. However, it would be strategically beneficial for all special-interest groups and community leaders to be aware of these unconscionable people and devise a means to neutralize their nefarious activities. Unfortunately, the consequence of this toxic NIMBYism precludes responsible downtown development that is so important to long-term sustainability of the community.

Once this destructive contingent is identified, it may be an effective countermeasure to challenge opposition by reference to the master plan: “which specific master plan tenet is the basis for resistance?”

The challenge would be applicable to growth policy consideration and/or proposed projects. It seems that this, along with other facilitating actions, will be necessary to break the interminable log jam that is squandering the remarkable opportunities inherent in Basalt’s core.

Don Ensign