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My friend the NIMBY

Let me introduce you to an old friend of mine. His name is NIMBY. His name stands for “Not In My Back Yard.”

Many years ago, I worked at a newspaper in Johnson County, Kansas.

You see “Kansas” and you think “wheat fields.” However, the primary cash crop of Johnson County is white collar workers in glass and steel office buildings.

The county lies just across State Line Road from Kansas City, Mo., the largest city in the metro area. Its population has boomed constantly since the end of World War II, with significant booms in several decades, even after the year 2000.

Though its history goes back to the days when the Santa Fe Trail crossed through it, Johnson County is now primarily a modern suburb, a very diverse community in terms of income, but on average, of higher incomes than elsewhere in the metro.

The largest city in Johnson County is Overland Park, Kan., a city of more than 181,000 people sitting in a suburban county of nearly 560,000 residents. It’s not a little farm town.

I bring up Overland Park because – although I loved the people I knew out there and admired the kind of community they had built, I saw some things that were perfect examples of NIMBY.

For example, Overland Park was home to the infamous “Beige Castle.” White Castle wanted to locate a restaurant in a shopping center there, and the city informed them that the shopping center in question was zoned only for beige.

Luckily, that got fixed quickly, and we got a truly White Castle.

Not so lucky was the so-called “Brown Roof Inn,” which looked really odd considering its sign said it had a Red Roof.

The Kansas City Metro area was the birthplace of the homeowners association. The first one in postwar America was created by local developer J.C. Nichols. His subdivisions were famous for title covenants, restrictions on house color, plantings, driveway material, even requirements for what kind of roofing material you could use (wood shake was the official favorite).

Overland Park seems to be where these concepts were perfected – rules tight enough to satisfy the angriest NIMBY, but open enough to create a safe, good-looking community people wanted to live in.

When people in Overland Park see something being built nearby that they think will change their neighborhood, reduce property values, or change the character, look or feel of their neighborhood, they become loud, petition-signing, city-council-attending, rule-citing NIMBY machines.

Honestly, it’s kind of impressive.

So what does any of that have to do with trucking?

Three simple words: North Bend, Washington.

Like Overland Park, Kan., North Bend is the kind of town where a grandmother wanting to bake a cake goes to the store to get eggs; they say the truck with the eggs will be in at 11. She waits till 11, gets her eggs, then goes home to bake and instead calls the police to tell them a dirty, smelly truck is parking near her neighborhood.

It’s the kind of town that eventually not only develops this kind of attitude toward trucks, but takes it a step further and develops a similar attitude to all industry – or really, anything that isn’t an outlet of Abercrombie and Fitch.

The TA truck stop in North Bend is a vital link for truckers in the region – one of the few places anywhere nearby with any truck parking.

However, the city is attempting not only to ban any other truck stop from building; but also to stop the current truck stop from expanding.

I loved working in Overland Park; I really appreciate the people I worked with there. They’re all great folks. I take no offense at how they have chosen to live, and I hope they take none toward my housing choices.

I think they

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