Do we really want to see job creation?

Published 10:08 am Tuesday, October 18, 2011

What are two of the biggest obstacles that hinder economic development and growth? It isn’t the economy. It isn’t financing. It isn’t property availability. Nope, it is geography and the NIMBY mentality — Not in My Backyard.

That is exactly what Lawrence County businessman Joe Freeman found out when he unveiled plans to convert the former South Point Elementary School into professional offices.

Although the existing ordinances allow Freeman to do a whole lot of things — many of which would be far more detrimental to the neighborhood — he cannot put office space there unless he receives consent from 60 percent of the adjacent property owners.

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So far he has been unable to do so as some residents have rallied against this plan, despite the fact that it would create or add jobs and that Freeman would put more than $1 million into the building he bought when no one else wanted it.

At least one Ironton property owner is facing a similar type of issue when it comes to seeking some zoning changes in the city ordinances.

It is certainly understandable that property owners want to protect the integrity of their neighborhoods and the value of the land.

What doesn’t make sense is to proverbially toss the baby out with the bathwater which stifles economic development and growth.

Residents need to realize that any development is better than empty buildings that decay.

At a time when jobs are scarce and development is slow, Joe Freeman tried to make an investment in the community. But that same community is the one standing in the way.