Land Use and Zoning


SAND related land use and zoning documents. 

When is a building permit required?

By City Ordinance, a building permit is required “to construct, erect, demolish, install, alter or repair…any building, structure, equipment, appliances or system…”

A building permit is not required for repair work with a total valuation of less than $2,500; provided such work is otherwise lawful. Repair work means in-kind repairs which do not add to, alter, or otherwise modify the building or structure.

You can apply for a building permit online or in-person through the City of Atlanta Office of Buildings.

Click here to learn about the permitting process and how to apply.

I applied for a building permit and was told I need a variance.

When a planned improvement violates the City's zoning codes, but not the spirit of protecting the quality of life and property values of its residential communities, the permit is rejected and a variance is required to proceed.

The variance process enables a home owner to secure a building permit for renovations which keep within the spirit of the SAND community, but may not otherwise technically conform to zoning standards.

Please note that variances and variance requests should not be the norm, but should occur only in instance of Undue Burden which must be proven to result in unnecessary hardship. The procedures, standards, criteria, and appeal provisions for decisions regarding such variances are outlined in Sec. 16-20M.008 of City of Atlanta Municode.

Variances are modifications of zoning regulations, granted by the City of Atlanta Board of Zoning Adjustments (BZA). The following process is designed to allow citizens and neighbors to weigh in on the application for the variance, but the final variance decision is always made by the BZA.

Understanding the Variance Process

  1. The person(s) seeking a variance first must submit an application to The City of Atlanta.

  2. The City and applicant will then route the application to Neighborhood Planning Unit-W (NPU-W).

  3. Typically, NPU-W will then refer the application to the SAND Land Use and Zoning Committee, which meets concurrently with the NPU-W Land Use and Zoning Committee held on the first Tuesday of each month at 7pm at the Village Church (1231 Glenwood Ave SE Suite B, Atlanta, GA 30316).

  4. The Land Use and Zoning Committee will review the application and make a recommendation to the SAND general body, who will review the recommendation and vote on a recommendation to NPU-W during the monthly SAND meeting held on the second Thursday of each month at 7:30pm at the Ormewood Church Fellowship Hall (1071 Delaware Avenue SE)

  5. Sand then makes a recommendation to NPU-W, and the issue is voted on at the monthly NPU-W meeting held on the fourth Wednesday of each month at the Village Church (1231 Glenwood Ave SE Suite B, Atlanta, GA 30316).

Land Use FAQs

What types of activity require approval from the neighborhood association?

Typically, any building activity that requires a variance or special exception from zoning ordinances. When you go to obtain your building permit, the permit office will tell you whether your project requires a variance or special exception. Rezoning, Special Permits, and Liquor Licenses are also frequent Land Use issues.

What does the Applicant do if the Applicant needs a variance or special exception?

Contact the Chairperson of the Land Use Committee ( Be prepared to provide a electronic copy of your variance application and all supporting documents. The committee will review the application and make recommendations as noted above.

What happens if I get approval from the neighborhood?

After you get approval from the neighborhood, you will go before the NPU (Neighborhood Planning Unit). The process is similar to that which you go through at the Neighborhood Association.

Where can I find property information?

  1. Zoning details, tax information, owner + mailing address: Click the small “more” link in the Property information box. Search for the address, try to start out with just the house number and the first word of the street name. Use the “online map” link to start an interactive map with “layers” like NPU’s, neighborhoods, Tax Allocation Districts, etc.

  2. Property appraisal details according to the Fulton County Board of Assessors.

  3. Permits, complaints, inspections, status updates, search the City of Atlanta’s Citizen Gateway. Search tip: provide as little information as possible, for example to find permits issued for 123 Main St. Apt. 4-a Atlanta, GA 30307, initially only enter Street No.=123 and Street Name=Main.(Pre-November 2009 permits)

How do I know which zoning code an address/property is in?

Two methods:

  1. Use the overview map to find the relevant detail map.

  2. Search by address, parcel ID, owner or land lot. This search is fairly forgiving: you can, but don’t have to, add “ave”, “st.” etc.

Where can I report a code violation?

Please see the Office of Buildings Inspections Division page for more information.

Where can I report a noise violation?

Atlanta Police Department via 911, or zone 6: 404-371-5002.
Atlanta Noise Ordinance.

How is tree removal handled?

Tree removal is typically handled through the Bureau of Buildings. Signs are required to be posted on the property. Trees are marked prior to the advertisement period and then they can be removed, if no one objects. Objections are filed with the City of Atlanta and heard before the Tree Commission.

Stop work orders

Decisions by the Bureau of Building and the Office of Zoning Enforcement are easily appealed – a temporary stop work order is issued and the appeal is reviewed by City of Atlanta staff.

What is the yard setback for my property? How high can I build? How many parking spaces is a community center supposed to have?

The relevant section of the Code of Ordinances will tell you! Determine the zoning code you’re interested in, then open the Code of Ordinances, City of Atlanta, Georgia. In the menu on the left, locate PART III > Part 16 – Zoning.

Contacts & Resources: