Should NPUs Have More Power?

Take our poll and share your ideas.

Since the system was established in 1974, the 25 Neighborhood Planning Units in the city of Atlanta have served to give citizens a voice on issues that affect their communities.

The citizen advisory board makes recommendations to city agencies on zoning, land use and other planning issues.

"The system enables citizens to express ideas and comment on city plans and proposals while assisting the city in developing plans that best meet the needs of their communities," says the city.

But is the system flawed?

At a , several citizens expressed their discontent with the city's alcohol license and permitting process.

The problem?

NPUs only make recommendations to city agencies. The boards have no real "power" in deciding if certain applications should be denied or approved. It's ultimately the Mayor and City Council who make the final vote. And some residents feel like messages of neighborhood opposition get muddled along the city process, which typically takes between 90 and 120 days.

For example, several residents at the forum were angered over a alcohol licensing issue for Kirkwood Bar + Grill. The restaurant hasn't received much support from neighbors for many of initiatives because they say it's a been a magnet for problems affecting quality of life.

This week, NPU-O — which serves East Lake, Edgewood, Kirkwood and the Villages at East Lake — voted not to recommend approving a variance request over window tinting for the restaurant.

Other local NPUs have struggled with power issues this year.

NPU-E — which serves Midtown, Ansley Park, Atlantic Station, Home Park, Georgia Tech and West Midtown — has spent a good part of the year grappling with . The board voted not to recommend several long-time events including the and Taste of Atlanta due to a variety of concerns from parking and public safety to detriment to local businesses.

NPU-F — which serves Virginia-Highland, Morningside-Lenox Park, Piedmont Heights and Lindridge Martin Manor — thoroughly discusses liquor license applications each month and recently voted not to recommend an alcohol license change of ownership request to the owner of an .

But the NPUs' voice of opposition has done little to encourage the city's denial of those applications. Residents say their decisions via the NPU seem to fall on deaf ears at City Hall.

We want to know how you feel about this issue. Do you think NPUs need more power? Take our poll and please share your opinions in the comment section.

John Benthal October 28, 2011 at 11:50 AM
Yes, the NPUs needs to have a bigger voice during the LRB process. People that attend the NPUs are more in touch with how their quality of life has been impacted more so than a LRB Board.
Marc Acampora October 28, 2011 at 01:12 PM
I have mixed opinions about this. I like the fact that neighborhoods have the NPU voice. But, NPU boards are not elected by the population. I have seen NPUs act irrationally and bulky folks with unreasonable requests and requirements. And they can spitefully make life difficult for neighbors they don't like. I generally think it should stay as-is, with their voice being heard by the City, but with only the power of recommendation.
Marc Acampora October 28, 2011 at 01:13 PM
Latir October 28, 2011 at 03:37 PM
Decisions to approve or deny applications to the city should be made by officials who are accountable to the entire electorate. By handing that responsibity to NPUs, as they are currently constituted and with the current process used by most, these decisions would be made by the relatively few peple who attend these meetings. One improvement could be that the Mayor or City Council must submit some sort of explanation to the NPUs whenever they make a decision contrary to the recommendations made by the NPU. This would add some level accountabilty for their specific decisions.
Marc Acampora October 29, 2011 at 12:29 PM
I completely agree with Latir. The comment about decisions by the NPU being made by just a few people is exactly what happens now. The same few active folks get a disproportionate voice to direct the direction of the neighborhood without being elected. I like the suggestion of having the city provide an explanation if they do not follow the NPU recommendation. That provides some degree of accountability from the city to the NPU without giving the NPU too much power.
CL October 29, 2011 at 01:20 PM
Me, me, me, me, me!!!! No, the NPUs don't need more power - they are NOT elected officials. The problem now is there are too many chiefs and not enough Indians. We have too many government agencies and boards now. The reason everything is so inefficient and we can't get anything done is too many city governments, too many counties.......talk to the City Council and support and influence them.....take a stand, make your case, but don't let a handful of people get too much power because they moved in to Midtown from the suburbs and want to turn it in to the quiet neighborhood from where they came.


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