Michael Wheeler


Citizens benefit from essential infrastructure like hazardous waste disposal facilities, but they do not want such facilities to be located in their own neighborhood. Local zoning allows communities to keep waste facilities out; as a result, siting them has proven increasingly difficult. Due to the continued need for such infrastructure, states have tried, often unsuccessfully, to combat NIMB Yism through preemption of local zoning. In 1981, Massachusetts adopted a siting law designed to use negotiated compensation as a means to overcome the NIMBY phenomenon. Private developers were to bargain freely with communities to establish terms for accepting a facility. The law's subsequent failure to lead to any new disposal sites does not disqualify negotiation as a realistic means of solving or alleviating NIMBYism. In fact, the law's ten year history provides vital insight into the obstacles that prevent parties from successfully negotiating their way around NIMBYism. Wheeler argues that, suitably reformed, the Massachusetts law offers a model way forward for planners and policymakers.

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