Max Baer Jr. feuds with the NIMBYs

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“Liberals are very broadminded: they are always willing to give careful consideration to both sides of the same side.” —Unknown

If you’ve visited this Place before, you may recall that your host considers himself somewhat of an expert on the U.S. Constitution. (Given that I’ve taught the subject on a fairly regular basis for the last five years, I’d better be.)

To that end, the application of property rights is among your host’s pet peeves as it relate to the country generally and the citizenry specifically. I always get a kick out of the NIMBY (“not in-my backyard”) crowd that always gets their underwear in a bunch whenever a developer attempts to turn a piece of dirt into something more productive.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for parks and open spaces. If I wanted to live in a place that resembled Manhattan, I’d move there. On the other hand, I generally side with the developer in developer-versus-NIMBY disputes. Perhaps because of my own development experience, I can understand the difficulties and hurdles one has to overcome to move a project forward. The NIMBY groups never quite see the irony (or hypocrisy) in telling a developer he or she can’t build next to them, when they themselves live in housing that once upon a time inconvenienced someone else.

Much like taxes—where only liberals pay their fair share—apparently only liberals live in homes that didn’t either disrupt the wildlife, disturb Mother Nature or irk neighbors who were there before.

Anyway, witness one Max Baer Jr. I wrote previously about his attempts to get his Beverly Hills Mansion and Casino built (“Carson City liberals hurt their economy,” May 24). The place is modeled after The Beverly Hillbillies, the hit television series in which he starred back in the ’60s. His first attempt was at Parklane Mall in Reno. The result? Shot down by NIMBYs.

The second attempt was at the Wal-Mart site in Carson City. In that one, he plopped down a cool $4.3 million to secure the location. Result? Shot down by NIMBYs.

Then he turned to Douglas County. I wrote that it finally appeared that the people and the powers that be in Douglas County might be somewhat smarter than, say, your ordinary government types in Reno or Carson City.

After that column ran, Baer called to thank me. I have to say he truly appears to be having the time of his life. And he gets credit (at least from me) for having the chutzpah to keep at it.

But now it appears that the honeymoon with Douglas County may be over.

At a recent meeting of the planning commissioners, he received flak over the project’s oil derrick and 12-story hotel. Modifications to either are deal breakers, according to Baer.

One NIMBY in the Carson Times said, “The height was way out of reason. Twelve stories on the top of the hill is not the appropriate spot.”

“He is always asking for more than what is acceptable, and he has pushed it to the limit,” Jerry Vaccaro said. “He wants to create this fantasyland, and he’s given us no consideration.”

Allowing that Baer is about to unload a sizable chunk of cash into a project—which by most accounts will benefit the community—with no guarantee of success, exactly how much “consideration” is he supposed to give?

This perhaps brings me to the aforementioned quote.