Zoning is an important area of law dealing with land-use and development, and which impacts how local governments plan their layout and organization. Zoning law is primarily a function of local governments, but Georgia state law does have minimum procedures to assure the general public has due process when local governments exercise their zoning power.
Every local government responsible for zoning periodically updates its zoning rules to ensure they are still serving the needs of the community and are appropriate for the conditions and circumstances impacting the people. The City of Atlanta’s own zoning regulations haven’t been updated since 1980, and are certainly in need of reworking. And that is what will soon happen, according to recent news reports.
Some of the changes that the update will purportedly involve will affect the process of obtaining a permit. At present, the process is rather lengthy and there is insufficient support for those seeking permits. The update is supposed to make the process more user-friendly and efficient.
Another aspect of zoning law that will be impacted is the frequency with which zoning variance must be obtained. At present, there is a high volume of variances requested since the codes are so outdated and circumstances in the city have significantly changed. Updated the rules will hopefully reduce the necessity for variances, though.
Other tasks for those in charge of reworking the zoning rules include updating definitions used in existing ordinances, updating neighborhood design standards and addressing parking requirements in current circumstances.
The process is expected to take three to five years. Citizens will have the opportunity to provide input about the updates. In a future post, we’ll look at the importance of navigating zoning issues with the help of an experienced attorney.