Stop the Tower

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Letter to the editor, The Washington Post, 12/20/00

Developers, Beware

Robert J. Morgan of American Tower Corp. accurately points out that the District must be consistent in its land-use and related permitting decisions [op-ed, Dec. 3]. But while the District should facilitate economic enterprise, a developer also must assume some of the burden of winning public support for projects considered undesirable.

Developers who avoid public involvement and surprise neighbors with the "Decide, Announce and Defend" approach to facility siting can expect to hear from the community they plan to join--especially if the project is viewed as reducing the quality of life or imposing unwanted costs. It is ironic for a developer to avoid public involvement and then, in the face of public opposition, issue threats and accuse the mayor and the public of having selfish, upper-class interests.

Public acceptance of a facility is needed, and coercion only creates outrage, which intensifies opposition. NIMBY behavior is not a flaw that impedes economic development but a sign of a healthy democracy in which local citizens expect to have a say in decisions that will affect them. And unless there is a clearly defined social need, elected officials cannot be expected to ignore the electorate--especially when a developer makes no effort to win public support. Businesses that respect the public will be respected in the District.

MARK DAVID RICHARDS
Washington

2000 The Washington Post Company

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