With success comes criticism, not necessarily justified. In a short time, the ATN has established itself as a reasoned, powerful advocate for neighborhoods and responsible growth in Tallahassee. We’ve spoken out on a number of growth-related issues such as the Welaunee Comp Plan amendments, the proposed Midtown Garage, the proposed Myers Park land sale, and the 4Forty project’s impact to the Virginia Street Live Oak.
This civic activism has prompted some to try to discredit ATN. They refer to us as NIMBYs. Nothing could be further from the truth. If one chooses a simplistic label for ATN, it’s more accurate to call us BIMBYs – Best In My Backyard. For us, “best” means responsible growth and “backyard” means Tallahassee, not a neighborhood or street.
NIMBYs only protect what’s close to them. ATN’s Guiding Principles drive our involvement in many community growth-related issues. (See https://www.atntally.com/about-atn/.) For the past year, we have been working with the City Growth Management Department on changes to the land development regulations to promote compatibility between low density residential development and higher density residential and commercial development. We are also working the City staff on changes to the regulatory language that establishes criteria for how development standards such as building height and building setback may be modified for a development.
Recent criticism of ATN claims that some of our member neighborhoods fought against the Lafayette Street apartments, an affordable housing community next to The Moon. To the contrary, HTG, the developer, met frequently with ATN member neighborhoods and, through a constructive back and forth process, enhanced the project by saving several trees, hiring a local landscape firm, and constructing a 10-foot bike/walking trail that encourages multi-modal transportation and creates a safe walkway for Hartsfield students. This collaboration was the subject of an article in the online magazine, Multifamilybiz.
Some people view growth like air: we need it to survive. Others view it as a cancer: it destroys the things that make Tallahassee so livable. ATN takes a more nuanced view: growth is energy. Like all energy, it is best used with care. Growth can be an enhancing or diminishing energy. To determine which one, we ask four questions: (1) Is it the right project in the right place? (2) How will it affect neighborhoods? (3) How does it advance social/economic equity? (4) How does it affect our natural environment and cultural heritage?
OK, you can call us BIMBYs. We’re good with that!