New Vocabulary An Initial Success

COMMENT

December 12, 1993|By BRIAN SULLAM

We all know what a NIMBY is.

When people object to the placement of a proposed landfill, an incinerator, a jail, an animal rendering plant or a tavern favored by bikers near their homes, the complaint often invokes the term NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard).

But do they also qualify as NIMFYEs?

What is a NIMFYE? Apparently, it is reserved for something even more undesirable than a NIMBY; it stands for Not In My Front Yard Either.

I bet you have never heard of a LULU or a BANANA, either. (If you want their definitions, you will have to read on.)

I hadn't come across these terms until several months ago when a thoughtful and anonymous reader sent me a copy of an article listing anti-development acronyms.

I guess because NIMBY is suffering from overuse, people are creating new acronyms to show their displeasure with certain development proposals.

According to the article, Rebecca Stone-Franklin, a recycling coordinator of Pinellas County in Florida, assembled some of these lesser known, but equally expressive, acronyms used to oppose unwanted projects.

I thought they were amusing, and, following the instinctual pack-rat behavior characteristic of all news people, I filed the letter for future use.

When the placement of an automobile emissions testing station at Westminster's Air Business Center became controversial a few weeks ago, my first thought was to unearth that letter. And find it I did, buried at the bottom of a stack of reports, clippings, letters and memos that sits on the side of my desk.

After rereading it, I realized that the auto emissions testing station was not a NIMBY or NIMFYE, but actually might belong in the LULU (Locally Unwanted Land Use) category.

Carroll County officials don't object to having an auto emissions testing station. They just don't want it located in this particular strategic industrial park.

Robert A. "Max" Bair, the executive assistant for the county commissioners who also oversees economic development efforts, said this emissions testing station was not the "highest and best use" of this industrial zoned land. The commissioners, Westminster Mayor W. Benjamin Brown and county economic development officials would like the testing station located on a less desirable industrial parcel.

Of course, the people who are neighbors to this yet-to-be-discovered site might also consider the testing station to be a LULU.

When it comes to determining what qualifies as a LULU, location seems to be the key.

While a horse farm is not a LULU in Carroll County, it would be one in Baltimore because the city code prohibits the raising of livestock. By the same token, a corner tavern or restaurant is acceptable in urban neighborhoods such as Highlandtown or Federal Hill, but would be LULUs in suburban developments such as Country Life Estates or Carroll Highlands.

Depending on how the project is handled, a LULU can also become a PIITBY (Put It In Their Back Yard).

The best example of a LULU becoming a PIITBY was the proposal to build a juvenile detention center on the grounds of Springfield Hospital.

The surrounding community didn't want the center near it. Several folks suggested that because most of the juvenile delinquents come from other counties, the facility ought to be built in one of those jurisdictions.

Of course, then the question arises: If there is a PITTBY, can there also be a PIITFY (Put It in Their Front Yard)? The answer is "yes," simply because I can't think of anything that is unacceptable in my back yard that would become acceptable by relocating to my front yard.

So, PIITBY and PIITFY can be used interchangeably in proper protest protocol.

NIMBY, NIMFYE, PIITBY and PIITFY describe a citizen's reaction to proposed projects. We all know that most elected officials interested in returning to office avoid any controversial subjects during an election year.

What we hadn't realized previously was that these pols had their own secret acronym code.

The phenomenon of never raising taxes, announcing the location of a maximum security prison or building a landfill in an election year is a NIMEY -- Not In My Election Year.

While NIMEYs may be controversial projects, they pale compared to NIMTOOs.

NIMTOO (Not In My Term Of Office) are those politically untenable projects and proposals that shouldn't be -- but nevertheless are -- deferred until the elected official is safely out of office.

The most extreme anti-development sentiment is probably manifested by the BANANA (Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anybody) attitude.

I'm told that Roger B. Hayden, the executive in neighboring Baltimore County, invokes this acronym when he is talking about the anti-development forces in his jurisdiction.

The most strident opponents of projects such as nuclear reactors, nuclear waste disposal sites and toxic waste incinerators fall into the category know as NOPE (Not On Planet Earth) -- a fitting negative-sounding acronym.

Armed with this essential shorthand, I feel as though I can now describe and categorize with great precision the reactions to all future development proposals.

Brian Sullam is The Baltimore Sun's editorial writer in Carroll County.

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