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When it comes to insurance, most of us are glad to have coverage, whether it's on our car, our home or our health.

But dealing with insurance can be a real headache, particularly if there is a difference of opinion between what a doctor believes is an appropriate course of action and what the insurance company is willing to consider.

Years ago, as I spoke with a woman who was formerly employed in the insurance business, we began discussing the frustrations related to claims and denials. Her advice: Keep working your way up the chain of command within the insurance company. Appeal, appeal, and appeal. Eventually, she said, the people who won't take no as a final answer will often get at least a portion of what they're asking for.

In essence, her message was to be relentless.

Government works very much the same way, sometimes. What I mean is there's almost never a once and for all. Even when a proposal is defeated, its opponents can hardly breath a sigh of relief and just go back to what they were doing before. This is especially true when it comes to development in a region like ours, where the push to clear land and put it to its highest and best use is never ending.

I thought about this late last week with news that the Washington County Planning Board voted 5-1 to approve a permit for a red dirt mine operation on about 60 acres east of Harmon Road, near the Wedington Woods subdivision.

Property owner Tom Terminella isn't wrong when he says there's a demand for materials, like red dirt, for construction projects across the region.

"All the growth is west of (Interstate) 49," Terminella said. "The material is needed where the growth is going."

The difficulty for neighbors is also understandable. A few years back, they fought a proposal on the same parcel that would have allowed operation of a red dirt mine not unlike the one Terminella proposes. The neighbors worry the open-pit mine will crowd county roads with trucks hauling the dirt to their intended destinations, disrupting the peace of the rural area they've grown used to.

"You turned it down in 2014 for those reasons," said Jim Gallagher, a neighbor. "Those reasons still exist. Nothing has changed."

But things do change, sometimes not at all to do with the property involved. Members of decision-making bodies, whether it's a Planning Board or a Quorum Court, change. Ownership of properties change. Attitudes change.

For neighbors, it is understandably frustrating that they have to keep fighting for the status quo. As with the insurance company employee I mentioned, each time a proposal rolls around, there's usually appeal, after appeal, after appeal.

There are no easy answers. Landowners have certain rights and no government can issue a decision that will forever declare their private property off limits for the kind of development they seek and their neighbors want to avoid.

Perhaps there are exceptions, such as the Buffalo River. The debate over the presence of a hog farm near the nation's first national river led to Gov. Asa Hutchinson proposing a buyout and a permanent ban on large-scale hog farming within the watershed of that river. Whether that happens still hangs in the balance as the state Department of Environmental Quality considers the new regulation.

So, what's the answer? Someone once or twice suggested that "eternal vigilance is the price of liberty." It is also the price of living in a region where development is robust and landowners are often eager to get the most financial benefit out of their properties.

Government decisions, even the denials, almost never mean "no." More often, they simply mean "not now."

Commentary on 08/25/2019

Print Headline: "No" today doesn't mean it's forever

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