zoning imageBy Collin Kelley

Atlanta’s zoning ordinance laws are about to get a big overhaul, according the city’s Commissioner of Planning and Community James E. Shelby.

Shelby told a recent Buckhead Council of Neighborhoods meeting that the city’s zoning laws have not been updated since 1985.

“Our ordinances are so old that we can’t accommodate developers and it’s frustrating for them and our staff,” Shelby said. “We keep having to grant variances for projects, and that is a sign that the zoning ordinances are broken.”

The task is so monumental that Shelby couldn’t name a date for its completion, but said initial work will begin this summer. The city plans to hire forensic experts to look at the current zonings, see how they compare to other cities of similar size and try to adopt best practices for the various categories.

Shelby said once the forensic study is complete another team will do the actual rewrite of the ordinance laws. He said there would be public engagement and hearings on the zoning overhaul after the initial study is complete.

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.