The City of Atlanta has established zoning classifications which designate certain districts according to the specific use allowed, such as residential, commercial, or industrial.
While not all zoning issues are as dramatic as changing residential property to commercial or single-family to multi-family residential, each must go through the identical approval procedure. Every year, Atlanta's civic associations, as part of the Neighborhood Planning Unit (NPU) system, hear hundreds of variance requests that may involve building a garage, adding a fence, or increasing the size of a porch.
Every homeowner anticipating such projects should be aware of the steps necessary to obtain the appropriate permits and zoning variances. City inspectors make random checks of projects underway around town and report those not having the proper permits or approvals, which can result in an order to stop work or even the destruction of an existing project.
To determine if your project requires a construction permit or zoning variance, call the Bureau of Planning at 404-330-6145. You may also call Piedmont Heights' Chair of Zoning (see below). If the work you plan to do will require a variance or a zoning change, you will need to do the following:
File an application with the Bureau of Planning, City Hall South Building, 68 Mitchell St. SW, Suite 3350, Atlanta, GA 30335-0310. The application will be recorded and referred to the local Neighborhood Planning Unit (NPU-F for Piedmont Heights). The NPU will refer the application to the civic association.
Contact the PHCA Zoning Chair to arrange to meet with the PHCA at its Board of Directors meeting (or at a special meeting with the executive committee) to show and discuss your plans. The PHCA Board will then make a recommendation to the NPU whether to support or not support your plans. This recommendation will be based on zoning regulations, precedents set in the area, statements from affected neighbors, and consideration of any unique circumstances.
Meet with the NPU (third Monday of each month, 7:00 p.m.) to make your presentation to that group. The NPU will make a recommendation, using the input from the PHCA, to the appropriate governing body of the city—the Zoning Review Board (ZRB) for zoning change requests or the Board of Zoning Adjustment (BZA) for zoning variance requests.
The city’s zoning staff also makes recommendations to the zoning boards. Both the ZRB and the BZA hold public meetings where citizens are allowed to speak before a vote is taken. The BZA vote is final and the variance request is either approved or denied. The ZRB, however, makes recommendations on zoning changes to the Zoning Committee of the City Council, which in turn, recommends to the full City Council. The Council then recommends to the Mayor. The Mayor grants final approval or veto on the zoning-change request.
While this procedure may seem daunting and at times cumbersome, it is necessary in maintaining high-quality residential areas within our great city. Your civic association is available and willing to assist you in the process and welcomes any questions you may have.
Piedmont Heights Zoning Chair