Georgia Land Use Planning (1-GA-a)
Land Use Planning Process
1-GA-a.1 to 1-GA-a.3 — Contact Local Government
The developer should contact the local government to determine if there is a comprehensive land use plan in place. Municipal and county governments have the authority and responsibility to develop comprehensive plans and land use regulations at the local level. GA. Admin. Code §110-3-2-.03 (4) (1990). The regulations established in GA. Admin. Code §110-3-2-.03 (4) (1990) provide minimum local planning standards to guide local governments in developing and implementing comprehensive land use plans.
If there is a land use plan in place, the developer should review the plans and any accompanying maps, studies or other information in order to determine the goals and planning strategies of the local government and ensure the proposed project is in compliance with the plan.
If there is no comprehensive land use plan, then the developer should review any applicable local government zoning regulations that could affect the project.
1-GA-a.4 to 1-GA-a.6 — Does the Municipality or County Have Zoning Regulations?
The developer should determine if the relevant locality has zoning regulations. The governing bodies of municipalities and counties have the authority and responsibility to develop, establish and implement land use regulations that are consistent with the comprehensive plan of the municipality or county government. GA. Admin. Code §110-3-2-.03 (4) (1990). Specifically, county and municipal governments have the authority to adopt zoning regulations that are consistent with the comprehensive plan and the minimum procedural requirements outlined in GA Const. art. 9 § 2; GA. Admin. Code §110-3-2-.04 (3) (1990). If the municipality or county does not have zoning regulations, then the developer may proceed with the project. If the municipality or county does have zoning regulations, then the developer should review the zoning regulations to ensure the proposed project will comply with the regulations.
1-GA-a.7 to 1-GA-a.9 — Determine Whether the Project Conforms with Local Zoning Regulations
If the locality has zoning regulations, the developer needs to determine if the proposed project conforms to the regulations. If the project complies with the zoning regulations, then the developer can proceed with the project as described within the regulations. If the project does not comply, then the developer may need a zoning variance or the local government equivalent from the applicable county or municipality with jurisdiction.
1-GA-a.10 to 1-GA-a.13 — Contact Local Government About Zoning Variance
If the project does not comply with the local zoning regulations, then the developer must contact the local government body in charge of zoning decisions and determine what procedures are available to the developer regarding a zoning variance or the local government equivalent. Once the developer has determined how to petition for a zoning variance or request a zoning decision from the local government, the developer should then follow those local procedures.
Georgia state law allows localities to create administrative officers, bodies or agencies to help efficiently exercise their zoning powers. GA. Stat. Ann. §36-66-2(b)(1) (2012). The appropriate local body reviews the petition or application for administrative and technical completeness.
1-GA-a.14 — Give Notice of Hearing on Zoning Decision
Any time a local government takes an action that results in a zoning decision, they must hold a public hearing on the matter and give the public notice of the hearing. GA. Stat. Ann. §33-66-4(a) (2012). The local government must give notice between 15 and 45 days before the hearing, in a newspaper of general circulation within the territorial boundaries, and the notice must include the time, place and purpose of the hearing. GA. Stat. Ann. §36-66-4(a) (2012).
1-GA-a.15 to 1-GA-a.16 — Hold Public Hearing
The local government must hold a public hearing regarding the zoning decision in accordance with the policies and procedures the local government has provided to the public. GA. Stat. Ann. §36-66-4(a) (2012). The state provides minimum guidance over what kind of procedures local governments must use in zoning hearings. GA. Stat. Ann. §36-66-5(a) (2012). The guidance requires that local governments grant equal time to proponents and opponents of any zoning decision. At minimum both the proponents and opponents should each be given ten minutes to make their case. GA Stat. Ann. §36-66-5(a) (2012).
1-GA-a.17 to 1-GA-a.18 — Review Petition/Application for Approval
After holding a public hearing, the local government body in charge reviews the petition/application for approval and makes a zoning decision.
1-GA-a.19 — Proceed with Project
If the local zoning body makes a zoning decision in the developer’s favor, then the developer may proceed with the project in compliance with local regulations.
1-GA-a.20 — Appeal Decision (Optional)
The developer may file an Application for Discretionary Appeal pursuant to GA Stat. Ann. §§ 5-6-35 (2011) if the local zoning body rejects the developer’s request for a zoning decision. GA Stat. Ann. §§ 5-6-35(a)(1) (2011); Trend Development Corporation v. Douglas County, 259 Ga. 425 (1989).
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- Georgia – GA. Stat. Ann. §§ 36-66 et seq., County and Municipal Zoning Procedures
- Georgia — GA. Const. art. 9 – Counties and Municipal Corporations
- Georgia – GA. Stat. Ann. §§ 50-8-30 et. seq., Regional Planning Commissions
- Georgia — GA. Stat. Ann. §§ 5-6, Certiorari and Appeals to Appellate Courts Generally
- Georgia — GA. Admin. Code §§ 110-3-2 et seq., Minimum Planning Standards and Procedures for Local Comprehensive Planning