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Planning Laws, Rules, & Guidance.



Georgia Law


(O.C.G.A. 45-12-200, et seq., and 50-8-1, et seq.) The Georgia Planning Act is the foundation for community and regional planning in the state.  It acknowledges that "Coordinated and comprehensive planning by all levels of government within the State of Georgia is of vital importance to the state and its citizens. The state has an essential public interest in promoting, developing, sustaining, and assisting coordinated and comprehensive planning by all levels of government. This article is intended to provide for the coordination of planning, at the direction of the Governor, by departments, agencies, commissions, and other institutions of the state, and this article shall be liberally construed to achieve that end."


(O.C.G.A. 36-71-1, et seq.)  The Development Impact Fee Act (DIFA) promotes orderly growth and development by establishing uniform standards by which municipalities and counties may require that new growth and development pay a proportionate share of the cost of new public facilities needed to serve new growth and development.


(O.C.G.A. 36-70-20, et seq.) This Act provides a flexible framework within which local governments in each county develop a service delivery system that is both efficient and responsive to citizens in their county. The SDS process is intended to minimize inefficiencies resulting from duplication of services and competition between local governments and to provide a mechanism to resolve disputes over local government service delivery, funding equity, and land use. The local government service delivery process should result in the minimization of non-compatible municipal and county land use plans and in a simple, concise agreement describing which local governments will provide which service in specified areas within a county and how provision of such services will be funded.


(O.C.G.A. 36-36-11 and 36-36-110, et seq.) This Act brought about a number of changes to Georgia annexation law.  One of the most important to DCA operations is its establishment of a set of conflict resolution processes for annexation disputes.  Under the Act, DCA facilitates the process but is not materially involved in the deliberative activities the Act prescribes.


(O.C.G.A. 36-66-1, et seq.; 36-67-1, et seq.; and, 36-67A-1, et seq.)  The bulk of Georgia statutes related to zoning has been compiled into this file.  It contains the Zoning Procedures Law which gives local governments the authority to use zoning to manage development activities.  It also contains the statutes governing zoning hearings procedures and conflicts of interest in zoning actions.

Georgia Department of Community Affairs Rules Top of Page

COMPREHENSIVE PLANNING ("Minimum Standards for Local Comprehensive Planning")

(Chapter 110-12-1, et seq.) These are the formal regulations guiding the community planning process in Georgia.  They are intended to ensure that local comprehensive plans embody the articulated will of the community and provide the foundation for all decision-making by local government officials and other community leaders. They provide details about the required components of comprehensive plans and the process for their creation and adoption.

IMPACT FEE RULES ("Development Impact Fee Compliance Requirements")

(Chapter 110-12-2, et seq.) The Impact Fee Rules detail the additional comprehensive plan components required under the Development Impact Fee Act, above.  They describe the requirements for the Capital Improvements Element (CIE) of the comprehensive plan that all communities intending to pass a local development impact fee ordinance must first assemble and adopt.  The rules also explain the required annual CIE Update.

DRI RULES ("Developments of Regional Impact")

(Chapter 110-12-3, et seq.) The intent of the DRI rules is: improved local, regional and state level communication about new growth in the state. This aids in maximizing the positive benefits of new development projects while minimizing their adverse effects. The end result should improve development outcomes for the host jurisdiction, neighboring jurisdictions, the region, and the state.  Note the DRI Tier Map further down this page.


(Chapter 110-12-7, et seq.)  Region-specific DRI Rules developed by the ARC and the communities it serves which adapt the DRI process to the unique dynamics of the Atlanta region.

RIR RULES ("Regionally Important Resources")

(Chapter 110-12-4, et seq.) The Georgia Planning Act, above, authorizes the Department of Community Affairs to establish specific rules and procedures for the identification of Regionally Important Resources, development of a plan for protection and management of these resources, and for review of activities potentially impacting these resources. These specific rules and procedures are provided herein and are applicable to all local governments and Regional Commissions in the State.

ADR RULES ("Alternative Dispute Resolution for Inter-jurisdictional Conflicts")

(Chapter 110-12-5, et seq.) The ADR Rules are intended to: (1) provide an alternative to the courts for resolving conflicts related to planning or growth management (other than annexation or service delivery issues, both of which have their own requirements); (2) foster more careful consideration of, and planning for, impacts of growth; and (3) improve local, regional and state level communication about planning and growth management matters.
REGIONAL PLANNING RULES ("Standards and Procedures for Regional Planning")
(Chapter 110-12-6, et seq.) The Regional Planning Requirements spell out a process for the creation and adoption of regional plans.  The documents and the processes required are not terribly different from those spelled out in the local planning requirements--the primary difference is their scope and detail.  Among other goals, these rules are intended to:  involve all segments of the region in developing a vision for the future of the region; engage the interest of regional policy makers and stakeholders in implementing the plan; and provide a guide to everyday decision-making for use by government officials and other regional leaders.  To this end, the planning requirements emphasize involvement of stakeholders and the general public in preparation of plans that include an exciting, well-conceived, and achievable vision for the future of the region.
ENVIRONMENTAL PLANNING CRITERIA, Rules for (a.k.a. "Part V Standards")
(Chapter 391-3-16, et seq.) This is actually from the Rules of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.  DNR & DCA share responsibilities in this area.  The Part V Standards deal specifically with the protection of water supply watersheds, groundwater recharge areas, wetlands, river corridors, and mountains. These criteria were developed by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) as mandated in Part V of the Georgia Planning Act and in the Mountains and River Corridors Protection Act. DCA is responsible for ensuring that local governments have adopted development regulations consistent with the Rules for Environmental Planning Criteria.

Supplemental Guidance Top of Page


Supplemental Planning Guidance provides a set of recommendations to assist  Georgia communities in meeting and exceeding the minimum standards  for local comprehensive planning


This map illustrates the boundaries of Georgia's Regional Commissions effective on July 1, 2009.  The boundaries of the RCs' territories line up with the State Service Delivery Regions. 


The tier map identifies the DRI Tier (Metropolitan or Non-Metropolitan) for every county in Georgia with the exception of counties in the territory of the Atlanta Regional Commission.  That commission uses a special, region-specific approach to DRI tiers and thresholds. The current map reflects data from the 2010 US Census.


A flowchart illustrating the relationships between the responsibilities of local governments and DCA through the process for the annexation arbitration process.


DCA policy guidance providing general instructions for the abolition of a local development impact fee program.

Contact Information

For more information about planning and environmental management, please contact the Office of Planning and Environmental Management at 404-679-5279

Georgia Department of Community Affairs
60 Executive Park South, N.E.
Atlanta, Georgia 30329-2231

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