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Plan could shrink New Orleans footprint

A New Orleans rebuilding commission member is endorsing a plan that could shrink the size of neighborhoods in the city.
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A key member of the commission charged with overseeing the rebuilding of New Orleans partially endorsed a proposal to shrink the city's footprint, but pulled back from a recommendation to temporarily ban development in some of the neighborhoods hit hardest by Hurricane Katrina, according to the city's Times-Picayune newspaper.

Joe Canizaro, co-chairman of the city's Bring Back New Orleans planning subcommittee, said he and other commission members agree with a recommendation from the Urban Land Institute that some areas of the city should be returned to wetland, according to the newspaper. The ULI proposal would require environmental tests and hurricane-protection studies before allowing development in some neighborhoods, including the Lower 9th Ward.

Canizaro's plan would allow residents to rebuild in any part of the city for the next three years. "If a neighborhood is not developing adequately to support the services it needs to support it, we'll try to shrink it then," Canizaro told the paper. "I don't envision the elimination of neighborhoods, I see the shrinkage of neighborhoods," Canizaro said. The city would have the power to condemn property in areas that have failed to develop sufficiently to support the neighborhoods.

Canizaro also proposed the creation of a program that would give residents the pre-Katrina value of their homes if they choose to rebuild and later have second thoughts about the location.

A final recommendation to Mayor Ray Nagin isn't expected until the end of the year, but some commission members have made it clear that they also support the concept of a smaller city, according to the report.