WHAT IS AN NPU?
The City of Atlanta is divided into twenty-five (25) Neighborhood Planning Units (NPUs), which are citizen advisory councils that make recommendations to the Mayor and City Council on zoning, land use, and other planning-related matters. The NPU system was established in 1974 by the late Mayor Maynard Jackson to provide an opportunity for all citizens to actively participate in the Comprehensive Development Plan, which is the City's vision for the next five, ten, and fifteen years. Since then the NPU system has evolved into what it is today – the official avenue for residents to receive updates concerning all functions of City government. Enabling residents to express concerns and provide input helps the City in developing plans that best meet the needs of each neighborhood.
Each NPU is assigned a City of Atlanta Planner who attends the monthly meetings. Planners are charged with recording official votes, responding to questions about issues of Land Use and zoning, to presenting the various items that are sent by the City government for NPU review. The NPUs are staffed entirely by citizen volunteers who receive no compensation for their efforts. NPUs are not given any funding by the City for supplies or other needs. Each NPU sends a representative to the Atlanta Planning Advisory Board, which is a citywide entity that was created contemporaneously with the NPU System. The Board addresses issues of citywide concern and sends its recommendations to the City Council and/or the Mayor depending on the issue being addressed. The Board makes various appointments to City Commissions and Boards on behalf of the citizens.**
STRUCTURE and OPERATIONS
There are 25 NPUs, lettered from A to Z, except U. Each NPU represents the citizens in a specified geographic area. Each NPU meets once a month to review applications for rezoning properties, varying existing zoning ordinances for certain properties, applications for liquor licenses, applications for festivals and parades, any changes to fees charged by the City, any changes to the City's Comprehensive Development Plan, and any amendments to the City's Zoning Ordinances. Once an NPU has voted on an item, that vote is then submitted to the relevant body which makes the ultimate determination about that issue as the official view of the community on a topic. Enabling citizens to express concerns and provide input helps the City in developing plans that best meet the needs of each neighborhood.
NPUs operate according to a varied set of guidelines. Each NPU is permitted to create its bylaws and the only requirement is that once a year the bylaws are voted on and every resident and business owner is permitted to vote on those bylaws. Some NPUs permit anyone to vote while other NPUs operate in a representative governmental fashion with only elected representatives voting on the issues at hand. Given the variances of demography within the City of Atlanta, the idea that a one-size-fits-all system of community governance would successfully reflect each community's view is unrealistic. Therefore, NPUs are permitted to operate as the citizens see fit.**
**W. (2019, April 26). Neighborhood planning unit. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neighborhood_planning_unit