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Looking at the City of Atlanta’s zoning arm

Earlier this month, the city of Alpharetta reportedly kicked off the process of making updates to its city-wide land use plan, asking citizens to get involved by attending public meetings and make their voices heard. The city is reportedly required to update its Comprehensive Land Use Plan every five years.

Atlanta, of course, has a similar plan in place, which is required by law to be updated every three to five years. The plan is intended to facilitate growth and development with respect to a variety of aspects of development, including population, natural resources, community facilities, transportation, and land use. The latter term includes standards pertaining to the classification of neighborhoods for development purposes, or zoning. 

Zoning regulates the physical development of land by limited land use to certain purposes and regulating the height, size, density and placement of building and parking lots. Official zoning maps indicate how each section of land is zoned, and citizens are able to obtain official verification of zoning by submitting a request to the city.

There are several administrative bodies responsible for administering the zoning rules and process. The Zoning Review Board is responsible for considering property rezoning and special use permits. The Board of Zoning Adjustment reviews applications for zoning variances and special exceptions. Both of these boards take into consideration the recommendations of local residents impacted by these requests. Then there is the Office of Buildings Zoning Division, which interprets and enforces the zoning ordinance, performs research to verify zoning classifications, responds to complaints connected to permits, and handles several other matters.

In our next post, we’ll continue this discussion and consider the importance of working with an experienced attorney when navigating the city’s zoning apparatus.


Alpharetta-Milton Patch, “Alpharetta Wants Your Input On Land Use Plan,” Kristal Dixon, March 14, 2016.

City of Atlanta, 2011 Comprehensive Development Plan, Accessed April 2, 2016.

City of Atlanta, Zoning, Accessed April 2, 2016.

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