Atlanta Zoning and Permitting Attorneys

Georgia’s developing landscape often necessitates the rezoning of property and conditional use permits for properties owned by companies or individuals. We assist clients with rezoning and permitting needs.

Zoning ordinances restrict business owners and developers’ use of their properties and will affect the property’s value. Some cases can even impact a site in the midst of a construction project, resulting in a heated dispute due to the tremendous potential for the loss of money. Due diligence regarding zoning during the purchase or lease of a property is crucial. There are ordinances and compliance issues that must be acknowledged as well as specific design standards that may significantly impact a project. Creating a strategy for the zoning and permitting needs for a property in the beginning is always preferred, as failure to promptly address these issues can result in delays at best and financial losses at worst.  Our team of Atlanta zoning and development attorneys bring important experience and an honest assessment of the potential for rezoning of a property.

Based in Atlanta, Georgia, our land zoning and real estate lawyers work with county engineers, government bodies and neighborhood planning units to work to achieve a positive result for our clients. In addition, we ensure for the filing of rights reservation notices with each rezoning request to ensure that every client maintains their appeal options and vested rights should a local government deny the property owner’s rezoning request in an illegal manner or through a constitutionally impermissible denial.

What is the purpose of an Atlanta zoning ordinance?

The purpose of a zoning ordinance in Atlanta and surrounding areas is supposed to ensure that the land or property promotes orderly growth for a particular town or city and its citizens. However, sometimes the zoning ordinances are used improperly to stop growth or constitutionally protected uses. We work with the client to see if a zoning ordinance restricts his or her use in an illegal or unconstitutional manner.

What is the role of a zoning administrator or officer?

The zoning officer or administrator will review proposed rezoning requests and make a recommendation to the local government authority and local zoning board on whether to approve a rezoning request or not. It is absolutely critical to address the concerns of the zoning administrator during the initial review process. Hecht Walker works with clients on each issue related to a zoning administrator’s plan requests and suggestions for changes to a plan to work toward a positive recommendation.

Does the zoning administrator approve rezoning requests?

Generally, the zoning administrator makes a recommendation only to the zoning board and/or to the local county commission or city council. A rezoning request is a process, and the procedure can be time-consuming. There is never just one person involved in the approval process. While a zoning administrator plays a role in that process, he or she is not the sole decision maker. The application is considered only after the obligatory research has taken place, and the findings are deemed satisfactory for the process to move on to the next stage, typically the filing process.

Once the application has been completed and filed, meetings are scheduled as the details are addressed and completed. Public input is requested, and once those concerns, if there are concerns, are addressed, the governing agency will then make its final decision. Again, the zoning administrator or officer plays a pivotal role in the decision-making process, but his recommendations are merely factored into the process.

Are there notice requirements for rezoning requests?

Yes, there are. In Georgia, public participation and posting requirements must be followed as they are codified. Further, there are other requirements that will have to be met later in the process. Our Atlanta zoning lawyers will address the specifics as your process moves forward.

Atlanta Zoning and Permitting Attorneys

What can I expect in the services your Atlanta attorneys provide throughout the rezoning and permitting process?

We work with our clients from our experience and knowledge of each local government to let them know what we expect each county or city will approve or not and what changes may need to be made to a plan to achieve a positive result. We do not pretend that we can pound the rostrum and a local government meeting to get a city or county to immediately change their mindset. However, we do promise to work incredibly hard and diplomatically to try and achieve the best result for the client without litigation. And if litigation is necessary, we will work hard to put the client in the best position to achieve a positive result.

What are zoning classifications?

In Georgia statutes, zoning classifications establish general criteria for different uses of land and their respective development. There are four primary categories used most often with each having its own distinctive subcategories. These four categories include:

  • Residential;
  • Commercial;
  • Agricultural; and
  • Industrial Zoning.

What are zoning symbols?

When zoning land, it’s typical to utilize zoning symbols. These symbols are abbreviated codes that are used to identify allowable uses for different geographical areas. The symbols can vary from one community to the next, which can present challenges. The symbols generally are identified by a letter followed by a number. Some of the more common letters include R for residential, A for agricultural, P for parking, C for commercial and I for industrial.

What are use zoning restrictions?

Use restrictions involve regulations on how a land or property can be used according to the zoning ordinances. There are a wide variety of use restrictions, but a few of the more common include the height and size of buildings, the buildings proximity to each other, the percentage of area on a lot that may contain structures, and what type of facilities can be included in certain uses.

What is conditional use in zoning legal issues?

Conditional use permitting allows for some uses under a zoning ordinance if required conditions are met. A property owner often must file an application with local officials to ensure conditions are acknowledged and met. Our firm assists with these applications and working the applications through the local government process.

One example includes a conditional use permit that may allow an office building in a residential zone if several off-street parking places are provided along with the office space.

What is a variance?

In Georgia, a variance is best defined as a special use permit that provides an exception to the zoning ordinances already in place. Typically, detailed and specific dynamics come into play in order to secure special use permitting or variances. They might include unique approval challenges, considerations associated with the public notice requirements or perhaps a hardship. Any number of issues can result in unexpected opposition. Our goal is to take a proactive stance on behalf of our clients in order to prevent having to react to problems that could have been avoided.

Atlanta ordinances and zoning laws

The population explosion in the metro Atlanta area has created the need for complex laws pertaining to rezoning and special use permits. Atlanta’s governing bodies have a special interest in keeping the area economically sound and productive. However, some local government politicians will campaign on no growth policies which may be illegal or unconstitutional and may discourage quality growth. We work with our clients to address these improper policies.

Proper legal representation is critical considering the proverbial red tape and other challenges that this aspect of the law typically includes. With the changes in the laws, nuances in the verbiage and the application approval process as a whole, our Atlanta zoning and real estate lawyers stand ready to provide legal guidance in these matters. We invite you to contact us today to discuss your land zoning dispute or another real estate or business matter. Call 404-369-3073.


This information was posted on 08-23-2016 and does not constitute legal advice nor does it create an attorney-client relationship. The law changes on a daily basis, and the reader should engage an attorney through a written agreement before taking action in this area of the law.