Good Neighbor Agreements

April 9, 2021 11:44 pm

A community must have an organized group of volunteers and/or staff who meet regularly to identify specific outcomes and problems related to the institution or institutions of interest; This group could be an environment committee or a neighbourhood body, as two examples. It is usually best to have at least one person to collect some preliminary information about the industry from public documents and data searches. The more targeted the result, the more limited the search must be. A community will be in a better position to negotiate if it has a good understanding of what the company is doing, and its concerns will be taken more seriously when they have done research. The best source of information is the industry itself: maybe the band can arrange a tour or the company can send a representative to meet with the group. Direct contacts like this are desirable and can save the group many hours of search time, provided the company is willing to share information. We have had some success in getting information that way. Information on chemical releases and storage is available online (see Resources Box) and can be accessed relatively easily. It may also be worth checking all municipal, national and federal permits that the company has. Most of them require an appointment with the regulator, but some items can be sent directly to the applicant.

It can also vary from group to group; Some agreements can be concluded with minimal discussion and will take place in a few months, during which more years may be necessary to make progress, even gradually. The group will be more successful if it continues to work towards a positive outcome and if its members have time to devote themselves to this project each month. The results vary from group to group and from community to community. In general, a fundamental outcome would be to create at least one meeting where representatives of neighbourhood and industry interests would be present to discuss important issues within the Community. Some companies will be willing to cooperate with a community outside the framework of a formal agreement, which may also be a desired outcome. Because good neighbouring agreements are voluntary, important objectives can be achieved if a company agrees to address the concerns of municipalities without agreement. Local examples of agreements aim to reduce air emissions, exchange public notifications and provide information on employment opportunities with the local community. For more information, visit the Minnesota Sustainable Communities Network (nextstep.state.mn.us). An agreement on good neighbours is usually a non-binding agreement between a neighbourhood (community) and an area that works to deal collaboratively with specific issues of concern. It is a way for each group to understand the mission and point of view of others, and it leads to a kind of compromise that both groups can benefit from. This approach encourages voluntary action instead of longer legal challenges that might otherwise arise. It is often best to try an extension of the authorization or another change in the facility, where the company asks the Community for permission for its activities.

We thank our generous neighbourhoods for sharing their neighbourhood agreements, so that everyone can learn that if a business or entity adjacent to a municipality is of concern because of noise, pollution or other environmental complaints, residents may decide that they wish to go to the store to allay these fears.