In The News › B.G.R. wants to pull council’s land use powers

Aug 3, 2006

Source: New Orleans CityBusiness

B.G.R. wants to pull council’s land use powers

BGR wants to pull Council’s land use powers
By CityBusiness staff report
2006-08-03 11:01 AM CST

NEW ORLEANS – The Bureau of Governmental Research, a government
watchdog group, has drafted proposed amendments to the city’s charter to
reform what it calls the “dysfunctional land use decision making process in New

BGR’s amendments, released today, come on the heels of an October 2003
BGR report, “Runaway Discretion: Land Use Decision Making in New Orleans,”
which claimed the city’s process for making land use decisions was not fair,
rational or consistent.

The amendments would have to be approved by voters, but not until the City
Council adopts an ordinance authorizing the amendments to be placed on a
ballot, which BGR predicts would not go before voters until 2007.

In its 2003 report, the BGR said a major problem is the council misusing its
powers to overrule the City Planning Commission. The report also claimed
neighborhoods “lack an adequate voice in their future.”

After Hurricane Katrina, the BGR report caught the attention of a land use
subcommittee of Mayor C. Ray Nagin’s Bring New Orleans Back Commission.

The land use committee then asked BGR to draft charter amendments.

BGR said in drafting the amendments it sought comment from national and local
experts as well as nonprofits. Comment was also sought from Nagin, the City
Council, the planning commission and city legal staff.

BGR’s proposed amendments call for:

• the city’s master plan to be given the force of law;
• taking away the power to approve or deny conditional uses from the City
Council and giving that authority to the planning commission;
• requiring planning commission members be nominated by a committee of
planning officials, representatives from the business community and residents;
• creating a Neighborhood Participation Office to enable citizens to better
participate in land use decision making.

Aug 3, 2006

Source: New Orleans CityBusiness

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