When is it appropriate to use environmentalism to stop developments?

Editor’s note: Today, I’d like to welcome Jon Ribary as the newest contributor to RCG. With one of our other contributors, Eileen, he owns LTD Properties in Seattle. When I first started blogging, Jon was an early follower of RCG and began developing an online mapping tool around the first time I started gHomes. Jon’s take on real estate is from a slightly different perspective in that, first and foremost, he is a developer of land as oppose to an agent. In a constant effort to explore new areas of real estate, I look forward to seeing where Jon takes us!

A recent article from the Snohomish County’s Herald Newspaper got me thinking about the fine line between “preserving the environment” and NIMBYism (Not in my back yard!). I find that rather than really caring about preserving the environment, people use environmentalism as a hammer to slow down or stop projects that will “ruin” their view or preserve some favorite local property from being developed.

In the case of the Lake Stickney, the county says that the proposed development meets all applicable environmental laws, and yet one local, Chris Lloyd says “This is all about salmon habitat.” I’m not convinced.

To bring it to a personal level, if the house I live in has a sweeping view of the sound. Between me and my view was a 1940s rambler that just sold. The buyer, a builder who is planning to demo the house to build a 3 story home that would block my view. Do I have a right to stop that development, just to save my view, or is it an individual’s (or company’s) right to do what they wish on the property as long as they are abiding by development standards? If I wanted to keep the property from being developed, is my only right to buy the property to ensure it is not changed (or negotiate a view easement)?

If environmentalist’s #1 goal is to make sure projects are being developed properly, then I am on board. With land use and building codes where they are today, my past experiences tells me the proper precautions are being taken. If the opposition are anti-development and are using this tactic as a way to slow down or trump the development of the land, then I think environmentalism is simply being used as a ‘Trojan Horse’ to stop developments…