In The News › Report calls for more rules for NORA

Feb 28, 2008

Source: New Orleans CityBusiness

Report calls for more rules for NORA

Report calls for more rules for NORA
by Ariella Cohen Staff Writer

NEW ORLEANS – Legislation governing the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority should be tightened with stronger conflict-of-interest rules and new rules requiring the quasi-public redevelopment agency to follow zoning laws established in the city’s master land-use plan, according to a report by the Bureau of Governmental Research.

“The legislation should be amended so the city has a firm commitment that (NORA) will build within the parameters of the city’s land-use plan,” said Janet Howard, president of the nonprofit watchdog organization.

The 16-page report focused on the historic inefficiencies of NORA, which was created by the Legislature in 1968 as a response to a growing number of blighted properties in the city, but has been viewed as largely ineffective in the decades since.

Recommendations included in the report included the consolidation of blighted lots, an increase in the energy spent doing code enforcement work and a loosening of restrictions on developers seeking to build on blighted lots.

“Development should not be limited to specific types,” the report says. “To confront the massive redevelopment task, the city and NORA must cast a wide net that encourages development by the largest possible group of individual, nonprofit and for-profit developers.”

Joseph Williams, executive director of NORA, downplayed the need for changes in the agency’s governing rules.

“Any projects we would do require approval by the City Planning Commission, so I am not aware of the need to change any legislation to make that occur because that would already occur,” he said.

As for the agency’s conflict-of-interest rules, NORA is held to the state’s ethics code, Williams said.

“And as that code changes, our rules will change with it,” he said.

Williams also disagreed with BGR’s characterization of their policy as “limited” to specific types of development. All developers are open to applying to buy NORA properties, he said.

“But as we have one opportunity to rebuild New Orleans, we believe that a developer’s ability to build green and to a higher standard of hurricane protection should be weighed in to (a bid).”

Feb 28, 2008

Source: New Orleans CityBusiness

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