NIMBYs create a BANANA split
Somewhere in the Turkish town of Karaman there’s a van with Weaver Auto license plate frames making its way along cobbled and dirt streets. At harvest time, the people of Karaman camp in their fields and the van is used to provide medical help in a time of crisis or is otherwise used in surrounding villages that have little or no clinical care.
Matt Weaver and his brother, Tom, worked with the 49er Rotary Club of Nevada City to get the van across the ocean following major earthquakes that struck the heart of Turkey in the fall of 1999.
I bring that up as the two brothers prepare for tonight’s Grass Valley Planning Commission meeting (7 p.m. at City Hall), where they hope to get approval for a new 32,000-square-foot dealership on 9.4 acres on Idaho-Maryland Road, between the Home Center and ZBest Trailer. The Weavers have outgrown their current location, scattered among three or four lots on East Main Street.
In typical fashion, the NIMBYs (Not In My Back Yard) have surfaced to oppose the Weaver project. Most NIMBYs can tell you what they don’t like, but they rarely offer any real alternatives. In fact, most of them are not really even NIMBYs. They are BANANAs (Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anyone).
Generally speaking, BANANAs have never actually built anything themselves. They prefer to sit on the sidelines and tell others how to do it, or … in most cases … how not to do it.
Just last week there was a letter to the editor from a woman who thinks the Weaver plan is wrong for Nevada County. She said she lives near the current Weaver Auto dealership and can “hear the auto dealership’s P.A. system 12 hours a day, seven days a week from my front porch. … ”
She failed to point out that the dealership was there long before she moved in (there’s been a dealership at that location for more than 60 years). She went on to suggest that the new dealership would “jeopardize Highway 49’s Scenic Highway designation,” without offering any evidence to support that allegation.
When all else fails, jump on the scenic bandwagon, ignoring the scenic storage facility, the scenic supermarkets and other scenic businesses along the same business corridor. Not to mention the fact that the proposed site is zoned commercial and not “Wild and Scenic Open Space.”
On the other hand, I suppose the Weavers would entertain any offers from the woman to purchase the property if she really wants to keep it pristine. Unfortunately, BANANAs don’t generally like to pay. Why do that when you can simply march down to City Hall and complain for free?
As to the specifics of the Weaver proposal, it looks as if they’ve done quite a bit to help mitigate most issues, including:
• More than three of the acres will be landscaped. The Weavers plan to plant 167 trees, 1,038 ground-cover plants and as many as 635 large shrub plants. There are only eight trees on the “scenic” property today.
• They are being asked to install a signal at the Idaho-Maryland off-ramp at a cost of $250,000. If they’re lucky, they might even be reimbursed some day.
• They designed the building with a couple of issues in mind: (1) no HVAC on the roof, and, (2) a one-door-in, one-door-out service bay building so that people won’t see a bunch of service bays from the highway.
In other words, they’ve spent thousands and thousands of dollars in planning before the first shovel of dirt has been lifted from the site.
The foundation of any vibrant community is a vibrant business community. That’s especially true in a community of small businesses, such as ours. Our economic foundation is a thread of generally small “mom and pop” operations that provide jobs, sales taxes and donations to various nonprofits and schools. Many of them hang on by a thread, their futures determined by their ability to keep up with mounting taxes and myriad regulations.
So when we have a chance to see one of them grow and prosper, it means our community foundation is stronger. Such is the case with the Weavers. If allowed to expand, they’ll create 15 to 18 new jobs and their sales tax contribution (money that goes to support services we expect in a quality community) from $1.4 million per year to $2.8 million per year by the end of the second year.
If the Weavers are not allowed to grow, they have the option of cashing out, leaving Grass Valley to scramble to replace the millions in sales taxes.
And if that happens, organizations such as Rotary, Lions, Kiwanis, Brownies, Friendship Club, Music in the Mountains, Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital Foundation, Hospice of the Foothills and our local schools will have lost another benefactor. The Weavers have more than fulfilled their community obligation over the years (Matt and his wife, Donna, also own the Holbrooke Hotel).
What we need is a change of attitude around here. One that encourages, not discourages, business success. When a local business decides it’s time to expand, that news ought to be met with excitement and an attitude of innovation and encouragement, not compliance and discouragement.
Let’s hope our city planners recognize that tonight. Let’s hope they greet the Weavers with a sense of anticipation and joy for a project that can only make our community stronger in the end.
And let’s hope that the NIMBYs who are certain to show up tonight bring something besides a BANANA.
Jeff Ackerman is the publisher of The Union. His column appears every Tuesday.
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