A BETTER CITY, NOT JUST A BIGGER ONE
ZONING LAWS & TREE CANOPY
I am completely opposed to the new 600-page zoning ordinance. It is being touted under false pretenses. It is undemocratic as it severely limits the ability of community associations, Neighborhood Planning Units (NPU), and the city council to impact the granting of variances, it does nothing to protect our tree canopy, green spaces, or the watershed. It does nothing to protect our legacy residents from gentrification. It simply allows unbridled development for the benefit of huge investment firms under the guise of social justice and equity.
Any changes to the zoning code must include a comprehensive, effective, and enforceable tree ordinance. Setback requirement must be enforced. The penalties for violating the zoning/tree ordinance must include higher monetary fines, criminal penalties, and revocation of licenses for repeat offenders.
Residents must be empowered through the community associations and NPU process to have more authority (not less) over their communities including blocking variances that allow the wholesale destruction of our tree canopy, and licensing of commercial venues in their neighborhoods.
The licensing review board process is not transparent and needs immediate reform. The unelected licensing board should not be able to overrule the will of an entire community. If the licensing board and community cannot come to resolution the matter should be taken to the city council for resolution.
The one size fits all approach as called for in the proposed zoning law is ill conceived and is not grounded in demonstrable facts. Its proponents are using unsubstantiated talking points, faulty and misleading data. We must stand up and protect the uniqueness of our city against unbridled development like those before us did to save the Fox Theater, Virginia Highlands, and Inman Park from “progress”. Let’s not pave over paradise to put up another soulless apartment building.
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