What is a Good Neighbor Agreement?
In many places across the country, communities and businesses enter into private agreements, called Good Neighbor Agreements (GNAs), to address specific issues of concern in a collaborative way. Sometimes these issues are broadly impactful as would be the case with communities in proximity to industrial businesses – petrochemicals, manufacturing, mining, and the like. Other times the concerns are more localized as would be the case with a new bar that may increase traffic or noise in a specific area.
In any scenario, the negotiation of a GNA can be an important tool for community empowerment. Rather than resorting to costly, lengthy, and contentious legal challenges, cooperating on a GNA encourages voluntary action and collaboration. It is a way for parties to communicate their points of view, realize the concerns of others, and hopefully reach some form of mutually beneficial compromise.
In the context of our urban neighborhoods in Denver, we most often see this tool employed during a permitting or licensing process. If a business needs to procure community support, it encourages engagement and opens the door for these conversations. Registered Neighborhood Organizations (RNOs) like GPHC are typically involved in these conversations since, by their very nature, they represent the interests of all neighborhood stakeholders.
Denver’s Department of Excise and Licenses, for example, encourages communication between RNOs and applicants and holds that GNAs “facilitate a good working relationship and spell out how [the parties] will work together to address identified or anticipated problems.” Demonstrating cooperation in good faith provides a clearer path for business owners/applicants to achieve their desired outcome.
GNAs commonly address noise levels, hours of operation, use of outdoor patios, trash and recycling issues, and license transfers.