At the request of City Council Governmental Affairs Committee and the City Planning Commission staff, Committee for a Better New Orleans researched public and neighborhood notification requirements in other cities. CBNO researched the public notice requirements, timelines, application fees, and neighborhood meeting impact to the timeline in the following cities: Jefferson Parish, Lafayette Parish, Houston, Birmingham, Atlanta, Jacksonville, and Memphis.
This report will be presented at the next Governmental Affairs Committee, which is currently scheduled for Friday, October 19 at 2pm. City Planning Commission will present their Neighborhood Participation Program, which can be found at this link. CBNO’s Notification Requirements report can be found here: NPPs in Other Cities Comparison
Below is the summary of the report. For a full pdf of the report, please go to the link above.
Neighborhood Participation Program Requirements
Comparison with Other Cities
At the request of the City Council Governmental Affairs Committee, Committee for a Better New Orleans (CBNO) worked with the City Planning Commission (CPC) to research Neighborhood Participation Program (NPP) requirements in other comparable cities. Based on the questions asked by the Governmental Affairs Committee members, CBNO and CPC staff determined which aspects of NPPs to research and which cities would be used as comparisons.
CBNO research the following NPP components:
- Notification requirements for land use applications (zone change, variance, conditional use/special use permit, and subdivisions)
- Application fees & who pays notification costs
- Timeline for land use applications & neighborhood meeting requirement’s impact to the timeline
- How cities determine the validity of neighborhood associations
- Any exemptions from the NPP requirement based on size of property or lack of venue to hold meetings
CBNO used the following cities for comparison:
- Jefferson Parish, Louisiana
- Lafayette Parish, Louisiana
- Birmingham, Alabama
- Houston, Texas
- Atlanta, Georgia
- Jacksonville, Florida
- Shelby County, Tennessee (Memphis)
The next sections of this report summarize the findings based on the requirements in these other cities. All of the data for each city, as well as references, are found in the appendix of this report.
The most common notification requirements found in these other cities are similar to those proposed by the CPC: notice in the official journal, mailing to adjacent property owners, posting a sign on the property, and notice to neighborhood associations. Use of these notification requirements differ from city to city and even for different land use applications within the same city.
Notice in the official journal is required by every city. In Jacksonville the applicant is required to submit and pay for the official journal notice.
Mailing to adjacent property owners is required in every city. Some cities require certified mail for some of their land use applications (Jefferson Parish, Lafayette Parish, Birmingham, and Jacksonville). The mailing radius is different based on the city:
- Houston is 250 feet radius and 500 feet along abutting streets.
- Atlanta is 300 feet.
- Jacksonville is 350 feet.
- Memphis is at least 500 feet (can be more in some situations).
- Jefferson Parish ranges from only abutting property owners for zone change to 300 feet for Special Permitted uses.
- Lafayette is abutting and second abutting proporties for zone change to 300 feet for Subdivision.
- Birmingham is abutting properties for subdivision and variance and 500 feet for a zone change.
Posting sign on the property is required in every city except for Birmingham.
Neighborhood association notice requirements change from city to city:
- No requirements for Jefferson Parish and Lafayette Parish
- Neighborhood association notice is required for Houston and Jacksonville
- Neighborhood meetings are required for Birmingham, Atlanta, and Memphis
The cost of a land use application differs greatly depending on the city and the land use type. Variances tend to be the least expensive, in the $100 to $500 range, but can be thousands of dollars in Jefferson Parish and Memphis depending on the size of the property and number of variances. Zone changes and subdivision are often the most expensive, especially for larger properties, but these applications could be as little as $200 (if less than one acre) in Jefferson Parish or $500 in Lafayette Parish and Birmingham. The following table summarizes the various land use application fees for each city.
|Zone Change||Variance||Conditional or Special Use||Subdivision||Future Land Use Map Change|
|Jefferson Parish||$200 /acre ($5,000 max)||Residential $100-$2,000 Non-Res $150-$5,000||$200 /acre ($5,000 max)||$200 /acre ($5,000 max)||$150 (less than 2 acres) $500 (greater than 2 acres)|
|Lafayette Parish||$500||$200||$600 – $1,000 + $12 per lot|
|Birmingham||$500||Res $125 Non-Res $300||$100 + $5 per lot|
|Houston||N/A||30% of base subdivision fee||N/A||$475 or $738 plus $16.25 per lot||N/A|
|Atlanta||$500 to $6,000||Res $100 Non-Res $500 or $625||$400||$250 or $1,000 + $10 per lot|
|Jacksonville||$2,500 + $10 /acre – $15,000 max||$900 – $985||$900 – $985||$700 plus $27 per lot|
|Memphis||$500 + $50 /acre over 5 Res $750 + $75 Non-Res ($5,000 max)||Res $100 – $600 Non-Res $1,000 /variance||$500 + $50 /acre over 5 ($5,000 max)||$300 + $20 per lot ($5,000 max)|
There are often additional fees, in addition to these base application costs, to cover notification and other costs. The most common additional fees that the applicant has to pay for are mail notifications. Memphis will pay for the mailings, but have applicants provide all of the mail labels. Jefferson Parish, Lafayette Parish, Houston, and Jacksonville all require the developer to pay for the mailings for most of their applications. All of these cities, except for Houston, require certified mail for some applications which costs $5-7 per notice. Some of the cities require the applicant to pay for the signs and/or notice in the official journal, but this is less common.
The timelines for land use application tend to be similar across the different cities. Variance applications and some minor subdivision applications tend to have shorter timelines (1 – 3 months), if the application only require approve of a Board of Zoning Adjustments and not Council. Applications where City Council approval is required, such as zone changes and conditional/special use permits, tend to take 3 – 5 months and have a 120 or 150 day deadline for final action.
Neighborhood Meeting Requirements
Birmingham, Atlanta, and Memphis all require that developers meet with the neighborhood associations and/or adjacent residents. Birmingham requires that the developer come a neighborhood meeting. In Atlanta, the applicant is required to schedule a meeting with the Neighborhood Planning Unit, and depending on the NPU, they also might have to meet with the NPU’s Zoning Committee and/or the neighborhood association. In Memphis, it is the developer’s responsibility to schedule the meeting and invite the residents within 500 feet and neighborhood associations within 1,500 feet.
In all of these cities, the neighborhood notification does not need to take place until after the developer submits his or her application (the developer can meet prior to submitting the application). Then it is the responsibility of the developer and the neighborhood to meet before a deadline, which is usually a certain set of days before the Planning Commission or City Council meeting.
Neighborhood Association Validity
Three of the cities have certain community organizations that are designated to provide input on land use applications: Neighborhoods in Birmingham, Neighborhood Planning Units (NPUs) in Atlanta, and Citizen Planning Advisory Committees (CPACs) in Jacksonville. These organizations were either created or officially designated by the City, so their validity is established by the City. In addition to the NPUs and CPACs, there are neighborhood associations in Atlanta and Jacksonville. The neighborhoods can register to receive notice of and provide input on land use applications, but they do not have any official designation.
Birmingham has 99 official neighborhood designations that cover the entire city. All neighborhood recommendations are made based on a vote of the membership. When the neighborhoods vote on a recommendation, they are required to include information on the number of people who attended the meeting, number of votes in favor and against, and reasons for the vote. This provides verifiable information to City Council.
In Houston, Atlanta, Jacksonville, and Memphis, neighborhoods can register with the City to receive notification of land use applications. In each of these cities, the neighborhoods must fill out a form and also provide documentation (member/officer/board list, 501(c)3 designation, state nonprofit incorporation, bylaws, mission statement, and/or boundaries) to register with the City to receive land use notifications. Besides the documents required to register, these cities do not monitor or regulate the neighborhood associations.
Exemptions from NPP Requirements
In all of the cities that required neighborhood meeting or notice, CBNO did not find an exemptions based on the size of the project. Some types of land use applications did not require a neighborhood meeting (i.e. subdivision in Birmingham and variances in Memphis), but there were not any exemptions based on the project’s size.
Also, CBNO did not find any exemptions from the NPP based on a lack of a venue to hold a meeting with the neighborhoods and residents. In Birmingham and Atlanta, the developer comes to the regular neighborhood or NPU meetings, so the neighborhoods already have a venue for the meeting. In Memphis, it is the responsibility of the developer to schedule the meeting and invite the neighborhoods and adjacent residents. Developers are required to hold the meeting within a mile of site. The developer is required to find the meeting location, and there is no exemption from the meeting requirement for a lack of a venue.