15 Sep 2014
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Should NPUs Have More Power?

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Should NPUs Have More Power?

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.

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