NIMBY opposition & Sycamore Village [was: A bright future predicted
From: Fred H Olson (
Date: Thu, 11 Jan 2007 08:02:42 -0800 (PST)
On 11 Jan 2007 Catya Belfer-Shevett (catya [at]
wrote (reformated from bottom quoting) :

> Joani Blank wrote:
>> Here's a paragraph excerpted from an email I just wrote to a
>> cohousing group in response to their announcement that after a long
>> struggle and a lot of opposition from surrounding neighbors, they
>> finally got their site rezoned...
> That would be us!!  Mosaic Commons and Camelot Cohousing in
> Massachusetts.
> Earlier this week things were looking very bleak, but against all odds
> the Zoning Board in our town granted us our comprehensive permit last night.
> There's still the very real possibility that in the next month an
> abutter will appeal the decision, which will mean more delays and court
> time, but we're amazed and delighted and just crossing our fingers.
> Hurray! :)
>  catya, remembering Mosaic's first General Meeting, 7 years and 3 days  ago.

Congratulations Catya and Mosaic.  BTW could you explain the two names:
Mosaic Commons and Camelot Cohousing is one a former name or do they refer
to different aspects or something?

Do you suppose someone (You Catya?) could write up a detailed summary of
your NIMBY (?) experience and what you did that seemed to work / not work
in over coming this problem.

This could be very helpful to others.  Sycamore Village's current
NIMBY problem may or may not be able to benefit depending an several
timing issues (see below)

Tho I don't have specific experience I do have ...
A few thoughts on dealing with / avoiding Nimby problems.

Groups early in the process would do well to anticipate a Nimby response
and make friends with neighbors of their site and hopefully get the
support of most of them before organized opposition can develop.
A few adamant opponents can organize folks in opposition even when those
other folks might otherwise be neutral or supportive.  Heading off
opposition organizing may make the opposition less effective.

Once opposition develops keeping it from descending to " a campaign of
fear tactics and lies" is important.  It is hard for public official to
ignore campaigns that sway public opinion even if the facts and public
good are not served.

I wonder if getting a neutral trusted third party to arbitrate might be
helpful. The League of Women Voters comes to mind but it depends on local
situation.  Getting the public decision making body (zoning board etc) at
the request Cohousing group to recruit the third party would probably be
best to give the process credibility.

A specific process that might be helpful is the Peace Making Circle
process which amazingly encourages thoughtful interaction rather than
raucous debate.  See my page about circles which has links to other


Fred H. Olson  Minneapolis,MN 55411  USA        (near north Mpls)
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