Need a Land Use and Zoning Attorney in Atlanta?

Our Atlanta Legal Team Offers Representation in Rezoning and Permitting Needs

Georgia’s developing landscape often requires the rezoning of property and conditional use permits for properties owned by companies or individuals. These zoning ordinances restrict business owners, individuals and developers in the use of their properties. They also affect the property’s value. The ordinance will impact a site prior to construction. Due diligence regarding zoning prior to purchase or lease of a property is crucial. Specific uses and design standards will impact a project significantly. 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 the inability to develop a project at worst. Our team of Atlanta zoning and permit attorneys will work with your team to address your zoning and permitting needs.

Based in Atlanta, Georgia, our land zoning and real estate lawyers work with planning and zoning staff, local government engineers, government bodies and authorities and neighborhood planning units to work to achieve a positive result for our clients. In addition, we handle the filing of constitutional 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. If you or your company is facing a land use, permitting or rezoning issue, then the legal team at Hecht Walker, P.C. will work with your best interests in mind.

What Is the Purpose of County and Atlanta Zoning Ordinances?

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. However, sometimes the zoning ordinances are used improperly to prevent quality growth or the constitutionally protected uses of the property. We work with clients to see if a zoning ordinance restricts his or her use in an illegal or unconstitutional manner, and then to take action to protect the client’s property rights.

What Is the Role of a Zoning Administrator or Officer?

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

Does the Zoning Administrator Approve Rezoning Requests?

Atlanta Zoning and Permitting AttorneysGenerally, 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 it 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. Only then can you move on to the next step, typically the filing process.

Once the application has been completed and filed, the governing agency, often the zoning advisory board, will schedule meetings to address certain details and issues. They will then request public input to address any and all concerns. After that process is complete, the governing agency will often make the final decision. Again, the zoning administrator or officer plays a pivotal role in the decision-making process, but his or her recommendations are generally factored into the process.

You should also recognize that there are notice requirements for rezoning requests. In Georgia, the public must follow participation and posting requirements as they are codified. Other requirements will have to be met later in the process also. Our Atlanta zoning lawyers will address the specifics as your process moves forward.

What Are Zoning Classifications and Symbols?

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

  • Residential: This classification is for land marked primarily for housing. Density is the usual issue for review as well as the type of housing such as single family detached, apartments, condos and townhouses.
  • Commercial: Commercial real estate is generally reserved uses such as office buildings, retail stores and restaurants.
  • Agricultural: This type of land is designated for farms and farming activities generally.
  • Industrial: An industrial zone allows for manufacturing, distribution, and warehouse uses generally. Requirements for industrial zoning may include certain distances from residential, religious or other types of uses. Often this classification is broken down into Light Industrial and Heavy Industrial.
  • While the above classifications are traditional references, many ordinances include other classifications such as Mixed Use or other designations to attempt to incentivize or encourage certain combined uses and projects.

When zoning land, it is typical to utilize zoning symbols. These symbols act as abbreviated codes used to identify allowable uses for different geographical areas. The symbols can vary from one community to the next, which can present challenges. A letter followed by a number generally identifies the symbols. 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 an individual may use land or property according to the zoning ordinances. There are a wide variety of use restrictions, but a few of the more common include restrictions on:

  • Height and size of buildings.
  • Buildings’ proximity to each other.
  • Percentage of the area on a lot that may contain structures.
  • Certain building material percentages.
  • Uses of the different facilities included.

What Is a Variance?

In Georgia, a variance provides an exception to the zoning ordinances already in place.

Typically, detailed and specific dynamics come into play in order to secure variances and special use permits. 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.

What Is a Conditional Use In Zoning Legal Issues?

The population explosion in the Atlanta metro 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 no-growth policies may be illegal or unconstitutional and may discourage quality growth. We work with our clients to address these improper policies.

Conditional use permits allow 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 law firm assists with these applications and working with clients and local governments through the local government process.

Need Help with Metro Atlanta Zoning Ordinances or Permitting Requirements? Call a Land Use and Zoning Attorney

We work with our clients 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 get a city or county to immediately change their mindset. However, we do promise to work hard and diplomatically to try and achieve the best result for the client without litigation. However, if litigation is necessary, then we will work hard to put the client in the best position to achieve a positive result.

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 use, permitting and zoning needs.

Disclaimer: This information was posted on March 25, 2018 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.