Sunday, May 13, 2001

When does growth become bad?

When it encroaches on our back yard

        Try to build something in Northern Kentucky these days. Go ahead, try. Chances are, it won't be easy.

        Nobody wants anything anymore. That's not a theory or a judgment or a criticism. In so many of our local communities, it's a fact. And it's quickly becoming one of the biggest and most troubling issues for local government officials.

        In Fort Wright, they — “they” meaning in this and other examples “groups of residents” — don't want a Wal-Mart.

        On West Grand Avenue and Parkview Drive in Taylor Mill, they don't want a new east-west connector — an access road to Fidelity Investments — coming too close to their homes.

        Out in Boone County they don't want the airport to get a new runway. Too noisy.

        Elsewhere in the county, way out by the river between Belleview Bottoms and Petersburg, they don't want a new sewer plant. Too smelly.

        In Edgewood, then in Elsmere, then in downtown Covington and now in Covington's Peaselburg neighborhood, they don't want a new county jail.

        In Erlanger, Fort Mitchell, Lakeside Park, Crestview Hills, Elsmere and Edgewood, they don't want a mini-power plant.

        In Fort Thomas they don't want the woods at the end of a street called Woodland Place to be sliced up for new power lines, which are being relocated from the middle of town. Seems a committee appointed by city council doesn't believe people will come to shop in their city if the power lines aren't moved.

        I'm sure I'm missing some of the region's us-against-them battles. There's always a gang of them going on. And, as Northern Kentucky continues to grow - pushing out past places like Alexandria, Nicholson and Burlington — there are going to be
constant debates and battles about when to turn off the spigot of growth.

        This isn't to blame anyone.

        We need sewer plants. We need jails. And many of us need Wal-Mart.

        But people — regular Joes and Janes — also have the right to say “thanks, but no thanks” when a corporate giant like Fidelity uses the promise of a couple of thousand new jobs to convince state and local government leaders that a new road to their south Covington corporate campus is needed.

        It will only be a matter of time before voters start punishing politicians — justified or not — for growth gone wild.

        The pols aren't solely responsible; nor are they entirely blameless.

        It is they who woo jobs and development and then show up at ground-breakings.

        But they also want to improve the quality of life in their communities, and that isn't easily accomplished by chasing developers and jobs away.

        For going on three decades now, the growth of Northern Kentucky has been the envy of Cincinnati and the pride of Frankfort. You can't deny that projects like the Newport Aquarium, the airport and hundreds of nice, new subdivisions are assets.

        But there is a price to pay.

        E-mail at Past columns at


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