On this blog, we often focus on the issues of water and air pollution, toxic torts and environmental cleanup, which tend to be rather negative topics. Today we’ll write about something a bit more positive: new city laws which are allowing Atlanta residents to grow their own food. The increasing trend in urban agriculture is a positive one for multiple reasons: not only does it promote a healthier lifestyle and reduce the need to ship in food; it also strengthens relationships and communities.
Part of what has made the trend possible is changes in zoning rules. Zoning, as readers know, refers to rules enacted by local government regarding the permitted uses of sections of land. Zoning can regulate not only the use to which property is put, but also things like building height and density.
Prior to the zoning changes made by the city council, those doing urban agriculture in Atlanta could not obtain small business loans or business licenses and lease agreements for urban agriculture were out of reach. With those changes, these things have changed.
Zoning is an issue that can come up for those seeking to start a business or those seeking to develop real estate. When zoning ordinances put up barriers to moving forward on a business or project, it is sometimes possible to obtain a variance or deviation from the rules. Navigating the process of obtaining a variance is not necessarily easy, though, as it usually requires a great deal of cooperation and support from the city council and local residents affected by the business or project. For this reason, it can help a great deal to work with an experienced attorney in such cases.
Source: Atlanta Intown, “Urban Agriculture: New ordinances promote city farming,” July 1, 2-14.