2016-03-03 / Letters

‘In My Back Yard’ – what’s not to like?

To the editor:

We’ve been thinking about the frequently used term “NIMBY”– Not in My Back Yard. Since it is usually used derogatorily to describe people who are concerned that a proposed plan will disrupt their lives, livelihood or way of life, we wondered what the flip side of this viewpoint might be.

Our new favorite term, to be used only in a positive way, is IMBY – In My Back Yard – which is when an individual or a group of people look carefully at the place they call home and neighborhood, and describe what is worth protecting, and what can be changed that will enhance their surroundings. Since we all seek a place that speaks to our individual needs, whether it is a quiet countryside, a bustling city neighborhood or a convenient location for accessing work, play and services, we are therefore surrounded by many people who feel similarly. Neighborhood values usually are shared values – what makes a certain place special can be seen and described by most.

Maine is lucky to have many people who are motivated to find a way to protect defined shared values by using the best tool we currently have: donating or selling an easement to a land trust. Whether those special features are open space, historically significant buildings, popular views or unique habitats, an easement can be written that gives protection to those features by giving or selling the property rights that would threaten them (development rights, land use rights) to a trust. A land trust, in turn, does not accept this responsibility lightly, and does what it can, legally and financially, to strengthen its ability to meet that responsibility.

Maine is lucky to have so many dedicated land trusts; 24 operate in York County alone, with many run by committed volunteers and no or few staff. Their strength and the dedicated landowners with visions of IMBY have made significant gains in protecting what makes our neighborhoods special.

Neighborhood values are people-centric values, smartgrowth values, and quality-of-life values that make the whole city a better place to live. And you can thank those IMBY’s for that.

Jack and Barbara Kidder, Andy and Kathleen Tartre, John Tarbox, Henry Beeuwkes Saco

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