In The News › Master plan given force of law

Nov 5, 2008

Source: Times-Picayune

Filed under: On the Ballot, Orleans Parish, Planning Issues

Master plan given force of law

Master plan given force of law;
Zoning moves must conform to blueprint

BYLINE: By Bruce Eggler, Staff writer

New Orleans voters narrowly agreed Tuesday to amend the City Charter to give the city’s forthcoming master plan the force of law, meaning that all zoning and land-use decisions will have to conform to the plan.

The master plan is supposed to guide the city’s development for the next 20 years, creating a framework to promote goals such as economic development, better housing, improved infrastructure and environmental quality.

The City Planning Commission has hired a team of consultants to create the plan, which is expected to be finished by late 2009.

The charter amendment also requires the city for the first time to create “a system for organized and effective neighborhood participation” in land-use decisions and other issues that affect residents’ quality of life.

Giving the master plan the force of law is intended to make it more difficult for the City Council to change zoning laws to advance or block specific projects — what critics have termed “planning by surprise.”

In urging support of the amendment, the Bureau of Governmental Research said that in New Orleans, “land-use decisions do not emerge from a fair, rational or consistent process, and the City Council holds unbridled discretion in important areas.”

Almost no one, in fact, opposed the basic idea of giving the master plan legal force, but critics questioned the wisdom of taking that action before the plan is written and voters can know what it says.

The City Council voted 7-0 in July to endorse the amendment, but Councilwoman Cynthia Willard-Lewis recently reversed her position, and opposition to the measure appeared to mushroom in recent weeks, especially among African-American community groups.

The New Orleans branch of the NAACP warned that the plan might revive the post-Katrina idea of “reducing the city’s footprint,” at the expense of many predominantly black neighborhoods.

Groups backing the proposal included Citizens for 1 Greater New Orleans, the Downtown Development District, the Business Council and a flock of neighborhood organizations.

After a master plan has been prepared and approved by the City Planning Commission, it will go to the City Council, which can adopt it, reject it or amend it.

Once the plan is adopted, all zoning and land-use laws and decisions must conform to it, although controversy could arise in cases over whether specific actions would uphold or violate some of the plan’s guidelines.

The plan must be reviewed and updated at least every five years and can be amended once a year, with the planning commission making recommendations and the council having the final word. The commission will have to hold public meetings on proposed amendments, including in specifically affected neighborhoods.

442 of 442 precincts Votes Pct.

Yes 51,225 51

No 48,833 49

Nov 5, 2008

Source: Times-Picayune

Filed under: On the Ballot, Orleans Parish, Planning Issues

Fair Use Notice

This site occasionally reprints copyrighted material, the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We make such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of issues and to highlight the accomplishments of our affiliates. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is available without profit. For more information go to: US CODE: Title 17,107. Limitations on exclusive rights: Fair use. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.