Zoning changes on tap for City of Atlanta

Posted on October 30, 2018

With the cost of real estate rising, homeowners are looking to make the most out of their home purchase. Accessory dwelling units are becoming more and more popular in Atlanta. So what exactly is an accessory dwelling unit? It is referred to as any type of supplemental housing such as a carriage house, in-law suite, basement apartment or a tiny home on one’s property that has an independent kitchen facility.  The one key feature that sets this specific type of living unit apart is that the additional unit cannot be sold separately from the main property.

Many zoning districts in Atlanta allow accessory structures, including guest houses, but most single-family zoning districts (districts R-1 through R-4) do not currently allow ADUs specifically. The distinction between guest houses and ADUs is that ADUs can have a full kitchen including a stove. Last year, the city passed an ordinance (16-O-1548) to allow accessory dwelling units as a permitted accessory use in the R-5 zoning district. Currently, there is proposed legislation for a group of updates to the zoning code, one of which is to allow ADUs in the R-4 and R-4A single-family residential zoning districts.

The Zoning Update Phase II (Z-18-100) includes, among other changes, allowing ADUs in the R-4 and R-4A zoning districts. The Neighborhood Planning Units are voting on Z-18-100 this month. It will then go to Zoning Review Board public hearing in December and City Council in January.

Currently, in most zoning districts, it is illegal to exclusively use any dwelling unit either as an accessory one, or a short-term rental (i.e. Airbnb). The proposed solution is as follows:

  • Allow accessory dwellings in R-4 and R-4a zoning districts
  • Create a consistent approach to accessory dwellings in R zoning districts (eliminate R-5 distance requirements)
  • Remove parking requirements for accessory dwellings
  • Require that accessory dwellings conform with all existing zoning and development regulations (lot coverage, setbacks, height, density, storm water runoff etc.)

Other regulations that apply to ADU’s include:

  • ADU maximum floor area of 750 sqft.
  • Height 20 feet
  • Setback of side: 4 feet and rear: 4 feet
  • The ADU must not be closer to the principal structure than the adjacent ADU to it’s principal structure, if applicable.

By definition, the ADU has it’s own kitchen. If the structure does not have it’s own kitchen, it is an accessory structure and subject to these regulations.