Governmental Affairs Update


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 continuing its first round of meetings.  The next two meetings will take place February 15, at Trinity Presbyterian Church, 3003 Howell Mill Road NW, Room B-110, and February 17, at Mt. Carmel Baptist Church, 2755 Campbellton Road SW.  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. 


Unified Development Code Amendments

The Forsyth County Board of Commissioners is considering adopting new language for their Unified Development Code (UDC).  Several proposed changes will impact the home building industry.  The following definitions are proposed amendments in the UDC:
 Lot – The current definition requires areas within easements and areas of narrow width to be excluded when calculating lot size. The proposed modification would allow the entire lot to be counted when calculating lot size. If the board is interested in modifying the definition of lot, planning department staff recommends that similar consideration is given to a related section in Ch. 18 (Subdivisions).
Accessory Structures – The proposed changes would modify the regulations for accessory structures in residential districts. The current language limits the amount of accessory structures allowed on a residential lot. The proposed modification will exclude pools from this limitation. The modification also clarifies the intent of Finished Space, adding language to identify that Finished Space shall exclude unheated areas such as porches, unfinished basements, garages and decks.
Planning Department Employees – Per the direction of the County Attorney, the proposed changes would remove the reference that all personnel actions regarding the Director of Planning and Development be handled by the Board of Commissioners.


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.


Vacant Property Registration

State Representative Mike Jacobs introduced a bill to establish a vacant property registration process that could be implemented at the county level statewide.  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 nominal fee to maintain a vacant property database, and could only be required on foreclosed properties and not all vacant properties.  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

In 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.