The Difference Between Exploiting a Community and NIMBYism

In the White Mountains of New Hampshire, there was a long fight against the Northern Pass Project. The is was a private project to run high power transmission lines through the mountains of New Hampshire to deliver hydropower from Quebec to Massachusetts. This would have carved up a number of forests with no clear benefit to the community it impacted. The “jobs” touted by this project were largely temporary construction jobs that would disappear once the project was complete. Again, no benefit to the community.

Photo by Miguel u00c1. Padriu00f1u00e1n on Pexels.com

I bring this up because today in our local newspaper there was a story of people who were against a new cell tower in town. We need that cell tower. The last few summers (and other busy times of the year) I’ve been unable to use my data when in town. The cell towers we currently have around that location just aren’t handling the load.

It sounds like the company who is proposing the tower did everything possible to check on environmental impact of the area as well as visual impact. The trees surrounding the tower will camouflage it. Balloon tests were done on it and the location was chose for it’s lack of visual impact.

The opposition to the cell tower smacks of NIMBYism where the Northern Pass project didn’t. NIMBYism is a term for “not in my back yard”-ism. It’s the concept in many areas that people don’t care about a project except they don’t want it near them. Over the last twenty years as cellular technology has expanded it has happened a lot in regard to the placement of cellular towers. People will scream for better service, but they don’t want a tower anywhere near them, whether it’s because of their view being impacted or a fear of the technology.

The cell tower is needed. Like it or not, we are a wireless technology now. There will be benefits to this area of the community not losing cell and data service during times when we have many tourists in the area. Even if there was a visual impact, I would argue this need overrode considerations of visual impact to some degree.

We have a cell tower on the mountain above my home. We get little benefit from it because the way the signal comes off of the mountain, it completely misses us somehow. Our village gets a fee from the leasing of the property for the cellular tower. There’s a definite benefit to the community.

It’s important to distinguish between needed projects for the community and projects that exploit the community. No community should be exploited because they don’t have the means to fight it. I have seen that happen many times, from communities of color on Long Island having projects no one else wants put in their community to the way bottled water companies with deep pockets steal the resources of small communities with small budgets.

Thankfully, the cell tower project was green-lit, although there is talk of an appeal. I don’t think there’s much of chance of the Board’s decision being overturned.

8 replies »

  1. Patti I can relate! The impact of a cellular tower is minimal compared to a landfill. We have several not far from us. There was a big push to get them located elsewhere but we ended up with them anyway. We were assured that they would be used just for our county. A couple years later we found out that they had contracted to ship trash from out of state! Fortunately there was enough of a paper trail linking the approval with the assurance of “local waste” only that they had to cease to accept out of county trash…

    • I worked with Community Organizers for a while and we saw many tales like this where things were shifted into poorer communities or expanded to benefit a politician’s “friend” at the expense of a community. It is horrible.