Zoning Administrator

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The zoning administrator (ZA) administers and enforces articles 1 through 6, 11 and 12 of the Decatur Unified Development Ordinance (UDO). Duties and responsibilities of the ZA include: providing written determinations, zoning verifications, and interpretations and clarifications of the UDO; advising the Planning Commission on amendments to the UDO; monitoring and maintaining data related to the ongoing implementation of the UDO; and appearing before the City Commission, Zoning Board of Appeals, Planning Commission and other bodies on zoning matters.

Zoning Administrator Written Determinations

The ZA issues determination letters resulting from requests by property owners, developers, architects, land use attorneys and members of the public inquiring about the zoning regulations applicable to specific development proposals. These letters offer guidance to requesting parties as to whether a proposed project, such as a new building, an addition to an existing building, or a use change, conforms to the UDO. Once these letters are issued, applicants still must obtain all applicable required building permits and/or certificates before a use can commence or a building can be built.

About Letters of Determination

A letter of determination (LOD) is a written response to a request regarding the classification of uses and the interpretation and applicability of the provisions of the planning code. An LOD may include a determination about whether a specific use is appropriate in a certain zoning district, or whether a certain use may retain its legal nonconforming status.

In comparison to the zoning verification letter, LODs are typically more complex and require further research on the part of the Planning and Zoning Department.

About Zoning Verification Letters

A zoning verification letter (ZVL) is a written response to a request regarding the current land use and zoning for a specific property, including information on variances, special permits/exceptions, ordinances or conditions, and violations. This type of letter is more simplistic in nature than a letter of determination. A ZVL generally includes, but is not limited to, a statement about whether or not the subject building can be restored to its original condition and use in the event the property is destroyed by fire or any other form of natural disaster. 

Appeal Process

Letters of determination and zoning verification letters may be appealed to the Decatur Zoning Board of Appeals within ten calendar days after the date of issuance by filing a written notice specifying the grounds for appeal with the zoning administrator.  

How to Apply and Applicable Fees

Requests for a letter of determination and a zoning verification letter should be submitted in writing using your company letterhead addressed and mailed to:

City of Decatur
Attn: Zoning Administrator
2635 Talley St.
Decatur, GA 30031

Please outline your request or question and include the property address and parcel ID. Please make sure to include a check for the required amount as indicated in the fee schedule.

For letters of determination, please also include or attach any additional information that may provide aid in analysis of the subject property. It takes four to six weeks to process this type of request.

For zoning verification letters we use a standard letter response. If you wish to include specific language or information on the letter, please specify that in your letter request. It takes one to two weeks to process this type of request.

Administrative Adjustment by the Zoning Administrator

Certain administrative adjustments to the zoning requirements are permitted, which would not require a variance. The zoning administrator is authorized to adjust the requirements for:

Setbacks. A reduction of up to 10% of the numeric standard for a minimum building setback
Lot Coverage. An increase of up to 1% beyond the numeric standard for lot coverage.
Parking. A reduction in the minimum required vehicle parking spaces by up to 10%.

If the applicant must demonstrate, and the zoning administrator must find that all of these criteria are present when approving a request for an adjustment:

  1. There are clear and compelling reasons that are not purely financial demonstrating that the required standard cannot be met
  2. The modification is the minimum amount necessary to meet the objectives identified above; and
  3. The requested adjustment will not contravene the public interests or negatively impact adjoining properties.

How to Apply and Applicable Fees

Requests for an administrative adjustment to the zoning requirements should be prepared using the application form, attached to the building permit application, and submitted concurrently to the Design, Environment and Construction Division, 2635 Talley St., Decatur, GA 30031. A fee amount will be assessed at the time of submittal, including a fee for the administrative adjustment.  

Download the application form here.

For questions regarding zoning-related administrative adjustments, contact:

Angela Threadgill
Planning Director