A real LULU

There are two definitions for the word "lulu" in the Webster's Dictionary: one is the Civil-War-era meaning of "any remarkable or outstanding person or thing" and the other is the Depression-era meaning of "a fixed allowance paid to a legislator in lieu of reimbursement for actual expenses."

There should be a third definition: in the current planning and zoning context, Lulu means Locally Unwanted Land Use.

Recent LULUs have been a proposed Home Depot store in Montpelier, a Staples in Middlebury, and a McDonald's in Ferrisburgh. There are occasionally LALUs and DULUs for which the prime example is the Yankee Nuclear Power Station in Vernon; it was welcomed at the time of construction by the locals but more recently the object of get-it-outta-there efforts in the Vermont State Capitol. "Admired" and "distantly" are the relevant verb and (somewhat contrived) adverb.

Typically, a LULU situation arises when a landowner proposes a specific use for which his property has been zoned, only to have a highly-vocal opposition demand that "we don't care what the land is zoned for, we don't want it".

Thus, in Manchester a few years ago, opposition to a motel proposal, on land zoned for motels, arose because the specific applicant has a number in its trade-name and was therefore considered insufficiently upscale by the opposition.

In Randolph just last year, single family homeowners in an area zoned for multi family since the early 1980s (all of them had knowingly bought in under the present zoning) rose in protest against an actual multi family proposal. Opponents argued that the project would downscale the neighborhood and damage the "viewshed".

In both cases, the opposition succeeded even though their success violated the previously taken-for-granted zoning-as-of-right principle-wherein a proposal meeting all the published requirements for a given zone can't be denied a permit. Well, not any more. Heck, even the state planning bureaucracy won't stand up for zoning-as-of-right.

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