By Bill Adams, MBA, CCIM, ALC, CRB, Founder, Adams Realtors
In Part One of the Zoning Entitlements blog, I reviewed how a developer should typically perform their due diligence by examining the existing zoning regulations and having discussions with neighbors and local community associations. A visit to the planning office is also in order. If the planning staff has an unfavorable opinion concerning the proposed rezoning, that usually does not bode well for the application’s success.
The formal process of rezoning begins with filing an application with the municipal or county government. In the City of Atlanta, a developer’s first rezoning presentation will be at the local neighborhood association. Although the neighborhood associations have no formal role in the rezoning process, their recommendations carry a lot of weight with both elected officials and the boards involved in the approval process.
The next stop for a rezoning application in the City of Atlanta will be with the local Neighborhood Planning Unit (NPU). The local NPU is comprised of multiple neighborhoods and is the official public input body in the City of Atlanta. The NPU will consider comments from the community that will be directly affected by a rezoning and will make a recommendation to the City’s planning staff. A developer will typically meet with the Land Use and Zoning Committee of the NPU, and that committee will then make a report and recommendation to the full NPU. Having neighborhood and NPU approvals will increase the chance of a successful rezoning.
The next step in the approval process for rezoning in the City of Atlanta is the Zoning Review Board (ZRB). The developer’s application will be part of a public hearing. Citizens both in favor and against the rezoning application will have a chance to speak before the Board. The ZRB will also weigh the recommendations from the local NPU and the Office of Zoning and Development staff. The ZRB will vote to approve or deny the application. The application could also be deferred to a later date for the developer to amend the plan for the project. Once a decision has been made, the application will go before the City Council’s Zoning Committee.
The Zoning Committee will weigh the ZRB recommendation and vote to either approve or deny the application. The full City Council then votes on the Zoning Committee decision and, if approved, the application is forwarded to the mayor for his or her signature.
As you can see, rezoning a property is a long and arduous process, and the application can be deferred or turned down at any step along the way. When we are representing the purchaser of a property that will need to be rezoned, we usually recommend that a Purchase and Sale Agreement include a contingency allowing for at least 180 days for a rezoning to occur.
If you have any questions regarding zoning entitlements, I can be contacted at (404) 688-1222 or firstname.lastname@example.org.