Atlanta Building News
March 15, 2011

Governmental Affairs Update

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Around The Region March 1, 2011


Impact Fees

The city of Atlanta has hired a team of consultants to revise the city’s impact fee program. The study highlights that exemptions granted to affordable housing developers accounted for more than 40 percent of uncollected fees. The report seeks to revise how exemptions are granted, as well as redefine service areas. In addition, the plan recommends that the new fee structure charge impact fees based on dwelling unit size instead of a flat fee. Fees will likely increase, however the city will phase in the increases over time to allow developers time to adjust. For a copy of the proposed impact fee report, click here.

Permit Task Force Recommendations Progressing

Last year Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed commissioned a task force to review the city’s permitting process and make recommendations. The committee drafted a report that, in summary, suggested creating a one-stop streamlined process that allows permit applicants to receive all necessary reviews through one department, the Bureau of Buildings. The reorganization will involve a consolidation of positions in the Watershed Development department and the Bureau of Buildings, a move that would likely reduce or eliminate some positions. The recommendations are expected to run concurrent with the upcoming budgetary process, which must be approved by July 1, 2011.

City Continues work on Comprehensive Development Plan

The city continues to work on its Comprehensive Development Plan (CDP) to guide the direction for land use and economic development in the city for the next 3-5 years. This will be the most important document the city will adopt this year, as numerous regulatory changes will be implemented to achieve the goals outlined in this document. Last November the city’s planning department completed a draft of the plan and will begin hosting meetings for public input beginning at the end of January. The planning department is now beginning their second round of meetings, which will focus on character areas of the city. The next two meetings will take place March 1, Georgia Hill Community Center, 250 Georgia Ave., SE, and March 3, at Berean 7th Day Adventist, 291 Hamilton E. Holmes Dr. All meetings are between 6:30-8:30 p.m. Subsequent meetings for the general public will continue throughout the year. For a one-page fact sheet of the CDP click here. For additional detailed information about the CDP, go to the city of Atlanta’s website or click here. The CDP must be adopted by October 2011 by Atlanta City Council.


County Now Accepts Credit Card for Permit Payment

Cherokee County is accepting credit/debit cards for payment of business licenses, various types of permits, GIS services and other general county services. Credit card payments can be made at the Development Service Center counter. The county will also continue to accept cash and personal checks.


Erosion and Sedimentation Ordinance

DeKalb is working on a revision to their Soil Erosion and Sedimentation Ordinance. The amendments are to incorporate current state regulations adopted last year. While the recent amendments don’t have any glaring deficiencies, the county ordinance still doesn’t include a variance procedure for stream buffers, which could render some existing lots unbuildable.

City of Dunwoody Impact Fees

The City of Dunwoody is considering adopting impact fees to address necessary infrastructure improvements.


Comprehensive Plan Amendments

The county is currently updating their Comprehensive Plan to guide future development and the direction of the county for the next 20 years. They are seeking input and have two upcoming meetings planned to allow residents an opportunity to view the plan and provide comments. Meetings will be held March 7, 5-8 p.m. at Brookwood Elementary, 2890 Vaughan Dr., Cumming, GA and March 14, 5-8 p.m., Coal Mountain Elementary School Cafeteria, 3455 Coal Mountain Drive. To view the county’s proposed plan click here or go to the county’s website. Adoption of the plan is required by June 30, 2012.


Property Registration Ordinance

The Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners is considering an ordinance to amend the county’s Property Maintenance Ordinance. The proposal would require that all vacant property owners pay a registration fee to the county. The ordinance would apply to all property types, including single-family and multi-family residential, commercial, office and industrial. Fees are based on property type. The county Board of Commissioners have deferred vote on the ordinance until March 1. For a copy of the proposed ordinance, click here.

Unified Development Code

Gwinnett County is in the process of creating a Unified Development Code. The code would integrate existing regulations into one document. Unified Development Code’s are considered to be easier to use and interpret. The county has created a committee to review consultant recommendations. The committee will meet throughout the year and conclude in December when the code is expected to be adopted.


Vacant Property Registration

State Representative Mike Jacobs' Vacant Property Registration Bill continues to be amended. The latest version still requires all vacant properties to be registered, a definition that could prove problematic. Both commercial and residential trade groups are recommending that the bill address foreclosed properties instead of all vacant properties. Currently, vacant properties are defined as a structure uninhibited for 60 days. HB 110 has generating a lot of attention at the capital and is expected to pass due to the high number of vacant properties around the metro-Atlanta region. Several jurisdictions around the metro area have proposed or adopted a vacant property registration ordinance with fees all in excess of $150 per house. Representative Jacobs' bill will provide a uniform process and the proposed fee under this bill is $100 per property. The HBAG is monitoring this bill. For a copy of the proposed bill, click here.

Water Conservation Act Septic Tank Restrictions

State Representative Richard Smith has introduced a bill – HB 153 – to require a minimum three acre lot for properties that have septic tanks but utilize public water. This is being proposed under the Georgia Water Conservation Act. The HBAG is opposed to this bill. For a copy of the bill, click here.

NPDES Enforcement Protocol Circulated to Local Government

n an effort to ramp up enforcement of NPDES General Permit for Storm Water Discharges Associated with Construction Activity, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources circulated enforcement protocols to local governments earlier this year. Enforcement protocols are clear and require that new owners of previously inactive subdivisions are required to file Notice of Intent even if the site was previously permitted under the 2003 NPDES General Permit and renewed under the 2008 General Permit revisions. The protocols provide several scenarios under which enforcement should occur. It’s important to note that enforcement is expected to increase as it could potentially generate considerable revenue for the state and local government. For a copy of the protocols,click here.

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