Zoning: Codes, Applications & Checklists

City and state laws govern how individuals construct and maintain their properties. Zoning codes determine allowable uses, building codes establish construction standards, and housing codes identify minimum levels of upkeep. All of these are based on a government’s right to protect the safety and welfare of its citizens, specifically from dangerous buildings, crime, congestion, and loss of property values.

Variances & Rezonings
A variance is needed whenever construction or a renovation requires an exemption from zoning ordinances. For example, let’s say you want to add on to your house. The zoning ordinance requires a 7-foot side yard setback, meaning your structure must be no closer than 7 feet from your side yard property line. However, you have a narrow lot, and if you build your structure as designed it will be approximately 5 feet from the side yard line. In this case, you will need to get a variance. To request a variance, submit a variance request form.

A rezoning is required when you want to use a property for a purpose for which it was not zoned. For example, you want to build a duplex, but the lot is zoned for single-family use; or you want to build a retail unit, and the property is zoned R5 (single-family or duplex). To request a rezoning, submit a rezoning request form.

The process for obtaining variances and rezonings is similar:

  1. Apply for a variance or rezoning.
  2. Obtain a hearing date from the Board of Zoning Adjustment (BZA).
  3. Submit a detailed request for a variance to Lake Claire Neighbors by the 21st of the month prior to the month in which it will be presented, so information can be posted in the Clarion. Note: There is no LCN meeting in December.
  4. Inform the LCN VP of Zoning (email zoning@lakeclaire.org) and the neighborhood’s NPU representative (email npu@lakeclaire.org).
  5. Provide complete set of materials listed in the checklist below to the LCN VP of Zoning Zoning (email zoning@lakeclaire.org) and the neighborhood’s NPU representative (email npu@lakeclaire.org) no later than the second Thursday. The variance will be deferred to the next month if the VP of Zoning or the NPU representative determines that there are ANY missing items by the second Thursday. Preliminary reviews will be provided before the second Thursday upon request.
  6. Present your variance request at the monthly meeting of the neighborhood association (the third Thursday of each month; see the calendar), having completed the LCN and NPU-N checklist and the “Brief Summary Statement.”
  7. Present your variance request at the NPU-N meeting (the fourth Thursday of each month; see the Atlanta NPU calendar) and ask for approval.
  8. Appear before the BZA.

Lake Claire and NPU-N Variance, Rezoning, or Special Use Permit Checklist. The following checklist has been established to facilitate the review of variance, rezoning, and special use permit applications submitted to the NPU.

Please note that upon initial review, LCN and/or NPU-N may ask the applicant to provide additional information, and that these requests will likely vary due to the nature of the application at hand.

Applicants are asked to submit ten copies of the following materials. If you are unable to provide some of these items, discuss options with the LCN VP of Zoning (email zoning@lakeclaire.org) or the Lake Claire NPU-N representative (email npu@lakeclaire.org). You may collect and reuse these materials when your presentation is complete and the vote has been taken.

[ ] Application or referral sheet and any amended applications with all materials filed with the City of Atlanta (including the referral certificate), with a date stamp provided by the Bureau of Planning upon receipt of the application and materials submitted.

[ ] Site plan as proposed and survey of existing site (noting property lines, setbacks, trees, hard surfaces), drawn to scale and appropriately labeled.

[ ] Floor plan(s)—existing and proposed (if appropriate)—drawn to scale and appropriately labeled.

[ ] Exterior elevations, drawn to scale and appropriately labeled.

[ ] Photographs of property and adjacent properties (these may be photocopied and consolidated on one sheet of paper).

[ ] Signatures of adjacent neighbors and property owners within a 150-foot radius (on all sides) of the site, acknowledging review and approval of the same application and drawings submitted for review. If you are unable to contact all impacted neighbors within the 150-foot radius, you may notify them by mail. You must provide a copy of the materials you send and proof of mailing . See Sample Zoning Notification Letter.

[ ] A vicinity map indicating locations of adjacent neighbors and supporters of the application (within three hundred feet of each property line of the applicant property) and appropriately labeled. It is helpful to have this drawing to scale, but not required.

Brief Summary Statement. If the proposed development includes a variance for an increase in lot coverage exceeding 50 percent, please provide the following information:

  1. What will you do to reduce “impermeable” lot coverage?
  2. How will you address rainwater runoff?
  3. What will you do to replace trees removed or lost? (See this article on tree-friendly home construction and renovations.)
  4. What is the proposed FAR of “buildable” space?
  5. What is the condition of any sidewalks on the property? (LCN asks that any necessary sidewalk repair be done at the time of construction.)

For rezoning requests, will you be applying for a CDP amendment?

Questions? Email the VP of Zoning at zoning@lakeclaire.org.


Variance Request Form:

Rezoning Request Form:

Board of Zoning Adjustment:

Special Exception Application:

Special Use Permit Application:

Housing Code Ordinances: