Why is Atlanta rewriting its Zoning Ordinance?
The existing Zoning Ordinance is 40 years old and no longer meets Atlanta’s current and future needs. It includes many outdated standards that do not reflect City policies or best practices, and its overall format is complicated and not user-friendly. The rewrite is an opportunity to comprehensively address these issues and create a new set of regulations that better serve Atlanta.
How long will the rewrite take?
Similar processes in other cities have taken 3 to 5 years. In Atlanta, we anticipate a similar timeline and hope to have the new Zoning Ordinance adopted by the summer of 2024.
What standards are changing?
Changes to standards in the Zoning Ordinance will be guided by the following:
- The public engagement process;
- The recommendations of the Zoning Ordinance Diagnostic;
- The Atlanta City Design and its supplementary zoning memo;
- The Comprehensive Development Plan (CDP); and
- Other City policies and plans.
Will new standards be customized to Atlanta’s unique needs?
Yes. One of the biggest challenges today is that the many zoning districts contain standards that bear outdated and inconsistent relationships to Atlanta’s existing development patterns – especially in its older urban neighborhoods. In such neighborhoods, this makes it difficult to construct buildings that fit in with their surroundings without first seeking costly and time-consuming variances.
The rewrite process includes a detailed review of existing development patterns in 24 representative neighborhoods across Atlanta that will be used to inform potential changes to the Zoning Ordinance. In addition, the consultant team includes local planners, architects, landscape architects, attorneys, and historic preservationists who understand the disconnect between existing development patterns, neighborhood policies, City policies, and what is permitted by the Zoning Ordinance.
Will historic districts be affected by the new Zoning Ordinance?
No changes to the current Chapter 20 of the Zoning Ordinance (Historic and Cultural Conservation Districts), other than minor technical clean-ups, are anticipated at this time.
Will changes be made to City codes besides the Zoning Ordinance?
No. Development in Atlanta is regulated by many different codes, including the Subdivision Ordinance, Building Code, Housing Code, environmental codes, and more. These regulations will be maintained, except when they must be updated to align with changes to the Zoning Ordinance.
Will the NPU system be changed as part of this?
No. The NPU system is regulated outside the Zoning Ordinance and no changes to its structure are anticipated.
Will legislation adopted while the new Zoning Ordinance is being updated be included in it?
Yes. There are many pressing needs that must be addressed prior to the new Zoning Ordinance adoption. These new regulations will be incorporated into the code as they are adopted by City Council and approved by the Mayor.
Will my property be rezoned?
Maybe. The new Zoning Ordinance might result in renamed, consolidated, edited, or replaced zoning districts. If this occurs, it may be necessary to update the Official Zoning Map to reflect these new changes. No other Official Zoning Map changes (rezoning) are anticipated at this time.
Will the public be involved in the rewrite process?
Public input is essential to the success of this effort. Our goal is to work closely with Atlanta’s residents, businesses, and property owners to explore, draft, test, and refine the new Zoning Ordinance and Official Zoning Map well before the official adoption process begins.
The process includes thirteen rounds of public meetings/workshops, not including the official adoption process. Highlights of these include:
- A public speakers series early on to introduce the process and explore topics related to planning and zoning;
- Focused workshops to explore and test potential alternatives;
- Feedback and refinement session focusses on various aspects of the new Zoning Ordinance and Official Zoning Map; and
- Discussion and listening sessions.
Except for the speakers series, meetings and workshops will rotate through the four quadrants of the city and each will feature the option of either in-person or online participation. All meeting materials and surveys will be posted to the website. Non-traditional techniques such as festival booths, pop-up exercises, intercept surveys, will also occur.
Once official adoption begins, the public will have the further opportunity to review and comment on the drafts through the City’s official public hearing process.
How can I stay involved?
This website has been set up so those interested can learn more about the project and how to participate in the process.
Associated Meetings Archive
Atlanta City Council Zoning Committee Meeting
Held September 27, 2021.
Technical Approach and Zoning Diagnostic Updates (19mb .pdf)
A compilation of analysis and findings used to lay the foundation and approach for rewriting Atlanta’s Zoning Ordinance, including the Public Engagement Plan and Updated Legal Review.
Atlanta Zoning Diagnostic Report (8.1mb .pdf)
A compilation of the findings and recommendations of the Atlanta Zoning Diagnostic project, which began in October of 2015 and was completed in May of 2016.
Existing Pattern Analysis
A review of existing Atlanta neighborhood development patterns at the city, neighborhood, block, and building scales. This video provides a general overview, together with the following detailed files: