“Our code dates back from the 1950s with an update in the ’90s,” District 6 County Commissioner Kathie Gannon said. “We have no code to fit the kind of development we want in DeKalb County.” “[The current code] is a very suburban code. We need something that matches our urban setting,” she said.
To recognize DeKalb’s new urbanism, the county hired Atlanta-based engineering, planning and construction management firm Pond & Co. to oversee the zoning law makeover.
As the law stands now, if a developer wants to construct a large mixed-use development — for example, to combine residential and retail in a manner similar to Atlanta’s Atlantic Station — a developer must make multiple zoning applications in DeKalb.
Special land use permits are required to build anything typically taller than three stories. Variances are needed for everything from parking to sidewalks and street buffers and must go through the zoning Board of Appeals.
The new code should streamline the process. “The code is being rewritten to implement the vision of the adopted 2007 DeKalb County Comprehensive Plan which encourages mixed use activity centers and encourages redevelopment of declining commercial corridors while protecting established single-family neighborhoods,” said DeKalb County spokeswoman Kristie Swink.
The first draft of the new code will be released in mid-February.