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Poll: Gwinnett voters keen on MARTA expansion

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Sixty-three percent of likely voters in Gwinnett County support the expansion of MARTA into the county, according to a recent poll by the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce.

The survey shows the county’s attitude toward MARTA is changing. Gwinnett voters have rejected joining the transit agency three times over the decades — most recently in 2008, in a nonbinding poll.

They’re also willing to pay for it. In addition to the majority of likely voters supporting the expansion, the study says “a majority (50%) of likely voters in Gwinnett County support a one percent sales tax to fund the expansion of MARTA into Gwinnett County.”


The study randomly sampled a total of 502 Gwinnett County citizens. Female participants outnumbered males by 10 percent, and there were twice as many white participants than African-American participants. Fourteen percent of the respondents identified as “other.”

Gwinnett, Georgia’s second most populous county, has changed dramatically in population and demographics since it first considered joining MARTA. The number of residents has more than doubled since 1990 to more than 870,000 today, according to a U.S. Census estimate. Nearly 25 percent of its residents were born in another country, the Atlanta Regional Commission says (PDF). Whites make up less than 45 percent of the population, according to 2010 census data.

Transit advocates such as Lee Biola, the president of Citizens for Progressive Transit, called the poll numbers an overall encouraging sign.

“New rail lines in Gwinnett would encourage walkable communities along the rail line and give Gwinnett residents a way out of traffic,” Biola said. “The regional transportation plan includes some great options for Gwinnett. MARTA could make these lines on a map reality.”

Added Colleen Kiernan of the Georgia Sierra Club: “I’m not surprised but I’m very pleased with the poll’s results. I think it’s showing what the market is demanding,” Kiernan said.

In many parts of metro Atlanta residents and businesses are showing a strong desire for more transit options. Clayton County voters recently approved a 1-percent sales tax to fund MARTA bus service — and one day, transit officials say, rail. Businesses are relocating and expanding operations in areas that are served by transit. Even Republican mayors outside the urban core are pushing for more mobility options.

The study found the strongest support for expansion in the southern part of the county in Districts 2 and 3, with 70 percent and 65 percent approval, respectively. “The groups with the strongest opposition to expansion are Conservatives, Republicans, and voters living further north in the county,” the report states.



More By This Writer

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__Atlanta Movie Tours__

Whether your preference is to call it ATLwood or Y'ALLYWOOD, there's no denying the city's growing influence on the global film industry. Thanks to the nice tax break Georgia offers, and the fact that it's home to the world's busiest airport, everything from ''The Hunger Games'' franchise to AMC's "The Walking Dead" have set up shop inside and outside the Perimeter. So want to visit President Snow's Capitol digs (aka the Atlanta History Center's Swan House), or peek at the spots where Rick Grimes laid waste to hoards of zombies? Atlanta Movie Tours is your chance to take a trip behind the scenes of some of the most popular film and television productions that have called Atlanta home. ''$65. [http://www.atlantamovietours.com|www.atlantamovietours.com].''


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You should know by now that Underground Atlanta is not literally underground. The shopping and entertainment hub rests at the city's original level, while the city streets Atlantans walk on are actually above ground. As the city expanded around its now historic railroad tracks, viaducts were built to separate pedestrian and vehicular traffic from the rails below. Atlanta architect Jeff Morrison has shared his passion with the public by conducting free walking tours of the city's "underground" history. The tours are not scheduled regularly, and are private events, but you can request information on the Unseen Underground Facebook page. If you're looking for an on-the-ground Atlanta history lesson, you're on the right track. Free. www.facebook.com/pages/Unseen-Underground-Walking-Tour/211158548933073.


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---
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Article

Thursday May 14, 2015 04:00 am EDT
Go behind the scenes, under the ground, and around the Beltline | more...
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*Calvin Kimbrough
*Wilton Hugh 'Wolf' Thomas
Members of Gentle Spirit Christian Church and the Open Door Community will hold a memorial service at Candler Park on Sunday morning to celebrate the life of Atlanta musician and longtime street personality Wilton Hugh Thomas, better known as “Wolf.”

Thomas was beloved by many in Little Five Points, where he spent many years helping other homeless men and women find food and shelter, and elsewhere in Atlanta. Those who knew him recall Thomas as being gentle, wise, and a lover of bluegrass music.

The Winter Haven, Fla., native was a longtime member of Gentle Spirit Christian Church. He befriended Pastor Paul Turner who later told CL, “There was not a kinder, gentler man on the face of the Earth.”

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*Calvin Kimbrough
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Members of Gentle Spirit Christian Church and the Open Door Community will hold a memorial service at Candler Park on Sunday morning to celebrate the life of Atlanta musician and longtime street personality Wilton Hugh Thomas, better known as “Wolf.”

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  string(1524) "       2015-04-30T18:24:00+00:00 Friends, community to celebrate life of Wilton Hugh 'Wolf' Thomas in Candler Park   Cleo Durham 13264772 2015-04-30T18:24:00+00:00  
*Calvin Kimbrough
*Wilton Hugh 'Wolf' Thomas
Members of Gentle Spirit Christian Church and the Open Door Community will hold a memorial service at Candler Park on Sunday morning to celebrate the life of Atlanta musician and longtime street personality Wilton Hugh Thomas, better known as “Wolf.”

Thomas was beloved by many in Little Five Points, where he spent many years helping other homeless men and women find food and shelter, and elsewhere in Atlanta. Those who knew him recall Thomas as being gentle, wise, and a lover of bluegrass music.

The Winter Haven, Fla., native was a longtime member of Gentle Spirit Christian Church. He befriended Pastor Paul Turner who later told CL, “There was not a kinder, gentler man on the face of the Earth.”

Thomas, who moved to Atlanta in the 1960s, was a familiar face at the homeless outreach provider, The Open Door Community. A picture of him now hangs at the Ponce de Leon Avenue facility.

After many years sharing stories, playing his guitar, and relentlessly helping others, Thomas became ill with double pneumonia and died on Feb. 24 at Grady Memorial Hospital. According to Turner, he was 72.

Thomas’ memorial service is scheduled to begin at 10:30 a.m.             13082894 14156447                          Friends, community to celebrate life of Wilton Hugh 'Wolf' Thomas in Candler Park "
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Article

Thursday April 30, 2015 02:24 pm EDT

  • Calvin Kimbrough
  • Wilton Hugh 'Wolf' Thomas

Members of Gentle Spirit Christian Church and the Open Door Community will hold a memorial service at Candler Park on Sunday morning to celebrate the life of Atlanta musician and longtime street personality Wilton Hugh Thomas, better known as “Wolf.”

Thomas was beloved by many in Little Five Points, where he spent many years helping other homeless...

| more...
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  string(2220) "“Hold your burgers, hold your fries, make our wages super-sized!” Atlanta protesters chanted outside of the McDonald’s just north of MARTA's Five Points station. 

About 30 labor protesters last Thursday gathered Downtown near the intersection of Broad and Marietta streets to hoist signs, share anecdotes about their jobs, and call for wage increases not only for McDonald’s workers but for all workers scraping by on low wages. 

The demonstration came one day after McDonald’s announced a wage increase of at least $1 above local minimum wages at some of its stores. According to the New York Times, the company's decision would affect roughly 90,000 employees at 1,500 corporate-owned restaurants. But wages for 750,000 employees at approximately 3,1000 franchise-owned restaurants would remain unchanged.

Among the protesters at Thursday's rally was Anthony Fambrough, a 25-year-old McDonald's employee who has worked at two different locations over the past three years. At the rally, he said that he initially received assurances of working 40 hours per week, making $8.50 per hour at one location, given his past experience. But for the past month, Fambrough has only clocked an average of 10 hours per week with his wages remaining at $7.50 per hour.

“I know everything about the business and they still won’t give me a raise," Fambrough said. "I was a shift leader for like three months. They demoted me because I kept asking for more pay."

Fambrough said the low wages and lack of scheduled hours have meant that he can't pay his rent on time, keep his cell phone continuously connected, or afford to regularly keep a full tank of gas in his car. 

“I can’t do nothin’ with $200 every two weeks, nothin’ at all,” he said.  

Some of the protesters were members of ATL Raise Up, the local chapter of a global movement called Fight for $15. The organization is composed of thousands of fast-food workers fighting for wages to be increased to $15 and the right to unionize without consequences. 

According to rally organizers, Atlanta protesters on April 15 will take part in a series of Fight for $15 nationwide strikes being held in 200 cities in hopes of bring about those changes."
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About 30 labor protesters last Thursday gathered Downtown near the intersection of Broad and Marietta streets to hoist signs, share anecdotes about their jobs, and call for wage increases not only for McDonald’s workers but for all workers scraping by on low wages. 

The demonstration came one day after McDonald’s announced a wage increase of at least $1 above local minimum wages at some of its stores. [http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/02/business/mcdonalds-raising-pay-for-employees.html|According to the ''New York Times''], the company's decision would affect roughly 90,000 employees at 1,500 corporate-owned restaurants. But wages for 750,000 employees at approximately 3,1000 franchise-owned restaurants would remain unchanged.

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“I can’t do nothin’ with $200 every two weeks, nothin’ at all,” he said.  

Some of the protesters were members of ATL Raise Up, the local chapter of a global movement called Fight for $15. The organization is composed of thousands of fast-food workers fighting for wages to be increased to $15 and the right to unionize without consequences. 

According to rally organizers, Atlanta protesters on April 15 will take part in a series of Fight for $15 nationwide strikes being held in 200 cities in hopes of bring about those changes."
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  string(2507) "       2015-04-06T20:19:00+00:00 Fast food workers urge McDonald's to raise minimum wage for all employees   Cleo Durham 13264772 2015-04-06T20:19:00+00:00  “Hold your burgers, hold your fries, make our wages super-sized!” Atlanta protesters chanted outside of the McDonald’s just north of MARTA's Five Points station. 

About 30 labor protesters last Thursday gathered Downtown near the intersection of Broad and Marietta streets to hoist signs, share anecdotes about their jobs, and call for wage increases not only for McDonald’s workers but for all workers scraping by on low wages. 

The demonstration came one day after McDonald’s announced a wage increase of at least $1 above local minimum wages at some of its stores. According to the New York Times, the company's decision would affect roughly 90,000 employees at 1,500 corporate-owned restaurants. But wages for 750,000 employees at approximately 3,1000 franchise-owned restaurants would remain unchanged.

Among the protesters at Thursday's rally was Anthony Fambrough, a 25-year-old McDonald's employee who has worked at two different locations over the past three years. At the rally, he said that he initially received assurances of working 40 hours per week, making $8.50 per hour at one location, given his past experience. But for the past month, Fambrough has only clocked an average of 10 hours per week with his wages remaining at $7.50 per hour.

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According to rally organizers, Atlanta protesters on April 15 will take part in a series of Fight for $15 nationwide strikes being held in 200 cities in hopes of bring about those changes.             13082489 13961418                          Fast food workers urge McDonald's to raise minimum wage for all employees "
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Article

Monday April 6, 2015 04:19 pm EDT

“Hold your burgers, hold your fries, make our wages super-sized!” Atlanta protesters chanted outside of the McDonald’s just north of MARTA's Five Points station.

About 30 labor protesters last Thursday gathered Downtown near the intersection of Broad and Marietta streets to hoist signs, share anecdotes about their jobs, and call for wage increases not only for McDonald’s workers but for all...

| more...
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*Joeff Davis/CL File
*Clarksville, Ga., resident Sarabeth Fowler said that the state's medical marijuana bill will help her eight-year-old daughter, Ava, gain access to a drug that "completely takes away her seizures."
After more than a year of heated debates, state lawmakers have finally approved Georgia’s first-ever law legalizing the possession of a liquid form of medical marijuana to help treat some health conditions.

House Bill 1, also known as “Haleigh’s Hope Act,” allows the possession of cannabis oil for eight different medical diagnoses. According to the governor’s office, the conditions eligible for medical marijuana use include cancer, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), seizure disorder, multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, mitochondrial disease, Parkinson’s disease and sickle cell disease.

The bill will not be formally signed until the end of the legislative session on April 2. But at this morning's press conference, Gov. Nathan Deal signed an executive order to prepare law enforcement and healthcare providers for new changes. 

Deal’s executive order instructs the Medical Composite Board to create a patient waver and physician certification form. Once the MCB completes that process, patients seeking cannabis oil treatment will be able to acquire the forms from the Georgia Department of Public Health. Deal said patients who receive approval from their healthcare provider will be issued a card that authorizes their possession of the cannabis oil.
   
“Sometimes as we review bills after the session is concluded, we find that there are conflicting provisions in one piece of legislation that may override or in some cases totally cancel out provisions of other bills,” Deal told reporters. “We do not want to take that chance that that could happen,” 

According to Deal, MCB members are set to meet on April 2 and begin taking those steps to make medical marijuana available to residents.

As the medical marijuana bill notes, cannabis oil must contain no more than 5 percent THC, the ingredient that causes marijuana users to get high. Deal said the medicine must also be rich in cannabidiol, or CBD, a compound that does not cause a high, and be used solely for medical purposes.

Haleigh Cox, the young girl after which the bill was named, was present at the press conference with her parents, plus several other families invested in the bill's passage. Cox was diagnosed with mitochondrial disorder. Before her mother began giving her the cannabis oil, Cox suffered from over 200 seizures per day. 

But like 16 other Georgia families, the Cox family last year was forced to relocate to Colorado to obtain treatment after the medical marijuana bill failed to pass in the final hours of the legislative session. 

“This means the world to us, we’ve been separated for the longest time," said Janea Cox, Haleigh’s mother. "For this to go through, we can come back from Colorado and not have to worry about being away from each other."

Moving forward, Deal and state Rep. Allen Peake  R-Macon, the bill's sponsor, will look at the possibility of in-state medical marijuana production — something that was cut out of this year's bill. Echoing past remarks made during his “State of the State” address, Deal assured Georgians that the legalization of recreational marijuana won’t be happening under his watch. “We want to be able to bring children home from Colorado without us having to become Colorado,” he said.

Based on the number of Georgians with qualifying medical conditions, Peake said about 500,000 people could have access to the cannabis oil to treat their medical conditions. But Rachelle Yeung, legislative analyst with the Marijuana Policy Project, doesn't consider Georgia to be a "medical marijuana state" given the bill's strict limitations.

"Unfortunately, this law does not provide sick and vulnerable patients with safe, legal access to the medicine," says Yeung, who commends Peake for fighting for medical marijuana legalization. "Instead, it seems registered patients are expected to smuggle the oil back from other states in which medical marijuana products can be legally produced.""
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*[http://clatl.com/atlanta/ImageArchives?by=1559825|Joeff Davis/CL File]
*Clarksville, Ga., resident Sarabeth Fowler said that the state's medical marijuana bill will help her eight-year-old daughter, Ava, gain access to a drug that "completely takes away her seizures."
After more than a year of heated debates, state lawmakers have finally approved Georgia’s first-ever law legalizing the possession of a liquid form of medical marijuana to help treat some health conditions.

House Bill 1, also known as “Haleigh’s Hope Act,” allows the possession of cannabis oil for eight different medical diagnoses. According to the governor’s office, the conditions eligible for medical marijuana use include cancer, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), seizure disorder, multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, mitochondrial disease, Parkinson’s disease and sickle cell disease.

The bill will not be formally signed until the end of the legislative session on April 2. But at this morning's press conference, Gov. Nathan Deal signed an executive order to prepare law enforcement and healthcare providers for new changes. 

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“Sometimes as we review bills after the session is concluded, we find that there are conflicting provisions in one piece of legislation that may override or in some cases totally cancel out provisions of other bills,” Deal told reporters. “We do not want to take that chance that that could happen,” 

According to Deal, MCB members are set to meet on April 2 and begin taking those steps to make medical marijuana available to residents.

As the medical marijuana bill notes, cannabis oil must contain no more than 5 percent THC, the ingredient that causes marijuana users to get high. Deal said the medicine must also be rich in cannabidiol, or CBD, a compound that does not cause a high, and be used solely for medical purposes.

Haleigh Cox, the young girl after which the bill was named, was present at the press conference with her parents, plus several other families invested in the bill's passage. Cox was diagnosed with mitochondrial disorder. Before her mother began giving her the cannabis oil, Cox suffered from over 200 seizures per day. 

But like 16 other Georgia families, the Cox family last year was forced to relocate to Colorado to obtain treatment after the medical marijuana bill failed to pass in the final hours of the legislative session. 

“This means the world to us, we’ve been separated for the longest time," said Janea Cox, Haleigh’s mother. "For this to go through, we can come back from Colorado and not have to worry about being away from each other."

Moving forward, Deal and state Rep. Allen Peake  R-Macon, the bill's sponsor, will look at the possibility of in-state medical marijuana production — something that was cut out of this year's bill. Echoing past remarks made during his “State of the State” address, Deal assured Georgians that the legalization of recreational marijuana won’t be happening under his watch. “We want to be able to bring children home from Colorado without us having to become Colorado,” he said.

Based on the number of Georgians with qualifying medical conditions, Peake said about 500,000 people could have access to the cannabis oil to treat their medical conditions. But Rachelle Yeung, legislative analyst with the Marijuana Policy Project, doesn't consider Georgia to be a "medical marijuana state" given the bill's strict limitations.

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  string(4441) "       2015-03-27T19:15:00+00:00 Deal signs executive order for medical marijuana bill   Cleo Durham 13264772 2015-03-27T19:15:00+00:00  
*Joeff Davis/CL File
*Clarksville, Ga., resident Sarabeth Fowler said that the state's medical marijuana bill will help her eight-year-old daughter, Ava, gain access to a drug that "completely takes away her seizures."
After more than a year of heated debates, state lawmakers have finally approved Georgia’s first-ever law legalizing the possession of a liquid form of medical marijuana to help treat some health conditions.

House Bill 1, also known as “Haleigh’s Hope Act,” allows the possession of cannabis oil for eight different medical diagnoses. According to the governor’s office, the conditions eligible for medical marijuana use include cancer, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), seizure disorder, multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, mitochondrial disease, Parkinson’s disease and sickle cell disease.

The bill will not be formally signed until the end of the legislative session on April 2. But at this morning's press conference, Gov. Nathan Deal signed an executive order to prepare law enforcement and healthcare providers for new changes. 

Deal’s executive order instructs the Medical Composite Board to create a patient waver and physician certification form. Once the MCB completes that process, patients seeking cannabis oil treatment will be able to acquire the forms from the Georgia Department of Public Health. Deal said patients who receive approval from their healthcare provider will be issued a card that authorizes their possession of the cannabis oil.
   
“Sometimes as we review bills after the session is concluded, we find that there are conflicting provisions in one piece of legislation that may override or in some cases totally cancel out provisions of other bills,” Deal told reporters. “We do not want to take that chance that that could happen,” 

According to Deal, MCB members are set to meet on April 2 and begin taking those steps to make medical marijuana available to residents.

As the medical marijuana bill notes, cannabis oil must contain no more than 5 percent THC, the ingredient that causes marijuana users to get high. Deal said the medicine must also be rich in cannabidiol, or CBD, a compound that does not cause a high, and be used solely for medical purposes.

Haleigh Cox, the young girl after which the bill was named, was present at the press conference with her parents, plus several other families invested in the bill's passage. Cox was diagnosed with mitochondrial disorder. Before her mother began giving her the cannabis oil, Cox suffered from over 200 seizures per day. 

But like 16 other Georgia families, the Cox family last year was forced to relocate to Colorado to obtain treatment after the medical marijuana bill failed to pass in the final hours of the legislative session. 

“This means the world to us, we’ve been separated for the longest time," said Janea Cox, Haleigh’s mother. "For this to go through, we can come back from Colorado and not have to worry about being away from each other."

Moving forward, Deal and state Rep. Allen Peake  R-Macon, the bill's sponsor, will look at the possibility of in-state medical marijuana production — something that was cut out of this year's bill. Echoing past remarks made during his “State of the State” address, Deal assured Georgians that the legalization of recreational marijuana won’t be happening under his watch. “We want to be able to bring children home from Colorado without us having to become Colorado,” he said.

Based on the number of Georgians with qualifying medical conditions, Peake said about 500,000 people could have access to the cannabis oil to treat their medical conditions. But Rachelle Yeung, legislative analyst with the Marijuana Policy Project, doesn't consider Georgia to be a "medical marijuana state" given the bill's strict limitations.

"Unfortunately, this law does not provide sick and vulnerable patients with safe, legal access to the medicine," says Yeung, who commends Peake for fighting for medical marijuana legalization. "Instead, it seems registered patients are expected to smuggle the oil back from other states in which medical marijuana products can be legally produced."             13082389 13866561                          Deal signs executive order for medical marijuana bill "
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Article

Friday March 27, 2015 03:15 pm EDT

  • Joeff Davis/CL File
  • Clarksville, Ga., resident Sarabeth Fowler said that the state's medical marijuana bill will help her eight-year-old daughter, Ava, gain access to a drug that "completely takes away her seizures."

After more than a year of heated debates, state lawmakers have finally approved Georgia’s first-ever law legalizing the possession of a liquid form of medical marijuana to help...

| more...
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Tired of not knowing your neighbors' names? See great things happen everywhere else but your community? Get engaged. Start by joining your local neighborhood association and your friendly Neighborhood Planning Unit. Here's what you need to know.

OK, I read that essay. How is this different from a neighborhood association?

An NPU is a citizen advisory board that is your community's — and surrounding communities' — official link to City Hall. It makes recommendations on zoning, liquor licenses, and other issues. NPUs encompass multiple neighborhoods within a specific area. If you want to get close to your neighbors, head to the neighborhood association.

How do I find my NPU?

Search "NPU Atlanta." The city's NPU section offers easy ways to find yours by council district, police zone, and ZIP code. The section also lists monthly meeting agendas, as well as dates, times, and locations.

What can I expect at my first meeting?

Bring a form of ID. NPUs require you attend several meetings within a certain time frame to earn voting privileges. Depending on where you live, you might find a packed house or a few people. City department reps and the police will speak. You'll find your requests sometimes carry extra weight when made at an NPU meeting. Officials know that people who take time to attend are engaged and most definitely vote.

How can I become a player in my NPU?

Attend meetings. Get involved. Speak up. Run for an officer position. You might get elected chair and be tasked with running meetings and making sure people don't ramble on about dog poop on sidewalks. It sounds unsexy, but it can be fulfilling enacting change, even in small doses. How do you think the best neighborhoods got that way?"
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Tired of not knowing your neighbors' names? See great things happen everywhere else but your community? Get engaged. Start by joining your local neighborhood association and your friendly Neighborhood Planning Unit. Here's what you need to know.

__OK, I read that essay. How is this different from a neighborhood association?__

An NPU is a citizen advisory board that is your community's — and surrounding communities' — official link to City Hall. It makes recommendations on zoning, liquor licenses, and other issues. NPUs encompass multiple neighborhoods within a specific area. If you want to get close to your neighbors, head to the neighborhood association.

__How do I find my NPU?__

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Tired of not knowing your neighbors' names? See great things happen everywhere else but your community? Get engaged. Start by joining your local neighborhood association and your friendly Neighborhood Planning Unit. Here's what you need to know.

OK, I read that essay. How is this different from a neighborhood association?

An NPU is a citizen advisory board that is your community's — and surrounding communities' — official link to City Hall. It makes recommendations on zoning, liquor licenses, and other issues. NPUs encompass multiple neighborhoods within a specific area. If you want to get close to your neighbors, head to the neighborhood association.

How do I find my NPU?

Search "NPU Atlanta." The city's NPU section offers easy ways to find yours by council district, police zone, and ZIP code. The section also lists monthly meeting agendas, as well as dates, times, and locations.

What can I expect at my first meeting?

Bring a form of ID. NPUs require you attend several meetings within a certain time frame to earn voting privileges. Depending on where you live, you might find a packed house or a few people. City department reps and the police will speak. You'll find your requests sometimes carry extra weight when made at an NPU meeting. Officials know that people who take time to attend are engaged and most definitely vote.

How can I become a player in my NPU?

Attend meetings. Get involved. Speak up. Run for an officer position. You might get elected chair and be tasked with running meetings and making sure people don't ramble on about dog poop on sidewalks. It sounds unsexy, but it can be fulfilling enacting change, even in small doses. How do you think the best neighborhoods got that way?           "neighborhood issue 2015"  13082297 13834025                          Neighborhoods - NPU 411 "
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Article

Thursday March 26, 2015 04:00 am EDT
Time to become a model citizen and get engaged | more...
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