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BOSTON - A growing number of Americans are strongly opposed to real estate development, although attitudes toward grocery development have softened some in the past year, according to the Saint Index, a survey commissioned by The Saint Consulting Group here.
The survey found that while 73 percent of Americans oppose new development in their communities, just 25 percent are opposed to grocery development, compared to 33 percent who were opposed in 2005.
The just-completed survey found that people are less concerned about the environment (11 percent response) than they are about protection of property values (36 percent) and preservation of community character (29 percent).
Saint Consulting, one of the largest consulting firms in the world to focus on land-use politics, initiated the Saint Index to assess attitudes and activism toward real estate development.
"The survey has begun to yield trends," said Patrick Fox, the international company's Boston-based president, in a statement. The telephone research occurred in September and early October, interviewing 1,000 respondents randomly selected across the States.
"Americans are looking for ways to stop development," Fox noted. In fact, nearly three-quarter do not want any new development in their own communities -- although the very projects they oppose (landfills, quarries, power plants, and Wal-Mart, for instance) would probably be all right someplace else.
Wal-Mart is one of the sectors that's facing even more opposition than in the 2005 Saint Index. Sixty-eight percent said they're opposed to Wal-Mart development, compared to 63 percent last year. Sixty-one percent of those polled admitted they like the big-box experience, but not in their own community.
As for how to overcome opposition, Fox offered the following advice: "Land-use politics is one way to block -- or support -- a building project. Developers, utilities, institutions, among many other sectors facing mounting opposition and permitting delays, need to face the political demands of the public approvals process, start outreach early, and mount aggressive campaigns to educate and organize the communities in which they propose to operate. This is essential for overcoming anti-competitive opposition and winning local approvals."