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Promises Aren’t Made To Be Broken

Promises. Promises. So easily made. So easily broken.

Sounds like a song, doesn’t it?

Actually, it’s the battle cry of NIMBYs (Not In My Back Yard) throughout the region who have lost battles against landfills, composting operations, power plants and gravel pits - and then had to live with the consequences of their political impotence.

Certainly, society needs dumps, sewers, Washington Water Power Co. gas-turbine plants and Interstate Concrete gravel pits. They must go in someone’s back yard.

But regulators, local governments and industry should make sure these controversial projects meet all conditions placed on them.

That didn’t happen last summer in north Spokane County when the putrid smell from the city-county compost plant irritated neighbors.

Originally, the application for the plant from the Regional Solid Waste Disposal System was turned down partly because “odors could not be controlled.” The decision was overturned after contractor O.M. Scott and a state Department of Ecology expert swore the facility’s neighbors would notice “a piney, woodsy smell.” At worst.

Ha! Last fall, the City Council closed the composting plant for a month to deal with the stink.

In Kootenai County, odor is one of several problems at the rural Fighting Creek Landfill, 15 miles south of Coeur d’Alene.

Already, a neighbor successfully has sued Kootenai County for runoff problems that clogged Fighting Creek with silt. And despite the best intentions and efforts of the county’s solid-waste department, nearby residents now endure exposed garbage, seven days of landfill operations instead of the promised six and a growing mound that wasn’t supposed to be visible from U.S. Highway 95.

Elsewhere, neighbors of WWP’s new turbine plant near Rathdrum, Idaho, have realized one of their fears. They are living with an intolerable hum because the plant is noiser than utility engineers had expected. WWP is trying to fix the problem.

In most cases, NIMBYs don’t want to be proved right and have the empty satisfaction of saying, “I told you so.”

Rather, they want to be wrong and continue to enjoy the life they had before the fickle finger of fate singled them out.

In other words, NIMBYs want conditions met and promises kept - even if they were made by a previous board of elected officials.

The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = D.F. Oliveria/For the editorial board