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Centennial: NIMBY...Settlement...This Is The Place


by Mari Domanski. Settlements are not static, they evolve.


  • Flags or markers for mock settlement, marked for type of use and size of use (e.g. farm 20 sq.ft. or hotel 8 sq.ft.)
  • Utah's Heritage by Ellsworth, see chapters relating to settlement and town layout in Utah.
  • Collect copies of past and present local zoning laws.
  • Current periodicals, print materials, or news reports of proposed changes.

Background for Teachers

With the attention in recent years to landfills, the storage of nuclear waste, the location of light rail systems, or the rezoning of neighborhoods, the concept of NIMBY may seem to us to be a current or modern issue. By looking back at settlement patterns of our past and our preferences for locating structures the ideas, philosophies and habits which created our cities and towns of today may be better understood. From modeling these in our past and examining these issues in our present we may be better able to work toward decisions for which any back or front yard would be acceptable.

NOTE: An outside location with a variety of landforms and changes in terrain will be helpful for the initial activity.

Intended Learning Outcomes

  • Students will identify the discussions, disagreements, and resolutions that zoning or location decisions can create.
  • Students will explain how NIMBY (NOT IN MY BACK YARD) works and decide how the desires of the individual and the group affect the NIMBY mentality.
  • Students will list criteria for additions to an existing community.

Instructional Procedures


See preface material for the Utah Centennial Lesson Plans book.

Set perimeters for an imaginary town. Direct students to put their marker in the best location for each structure and for the new community.

Students stake out a new community. Other than the sizes of the structure (e.g. farm= 20 sq. ft.) give very little instruction.

Draw a map of the new community. Use your map to prepare a coherent set of reasons that show the choices your group made in creating the new community.

Record reasons for location decisions as each group presents their summary.

When all reasons have been exhausted by presentations or discussion make a list of the criteria that can be used for location selection. Rank the list.

Compare the class list to zoning laws of the community. Discuss how the century, size of the settlement and the type of the new structure could alter the ranking of the criteria.

Obtain a map of your community which shows land use. Decide what changes in the community would be made using the criteria you have developed.

Discuss the concept of NIMBY. What changes were made as the community was staked out? What types of arguments are used to defend NIMBY philosophy?

Research changes that are coming to your community. After researching these make recommendations to your community, keeping NIMBY in mind.


Create a map of an ideal community complete with the criteria they used to layout the community. Compare this with the local community at various times in the past.

Present through persuasive speeches the varied views that NIMBY can take in decisions made about land use.

After researching the impending changes within their community, students will express their views in an appropriate forum and share with the community what they have learned. Create a commercial using NIMBY rationale persuading why an area should not be used for X. Consider the impending changes to the community. Create community models that showcase many varied ways the community may be impacted by different location choices. Display these for community response. Public speaking could be a good venue for these results as well.

Build a model to show how impending changes to the community could blend with existing community landmarks.

Created: 02/13/1997
Updated: 02/09/2021