The Development Servies department a regulates zoning, variances, land development, subdivision regulations, and platting.
Zoning in the City of Athens all starts with the Comprehensive Plan. The Comprehensive Plan is a long term plan for the growth of the City and provides a roadmap for land use and development including transportation, infrastructure, and use policy. The City of Athens adopted a Comprehensive Plan in 1999 to guide the long-term development of the City. The Comprehensive Plan guides zoning and land use, transportation planning, growth management and similar long-range planning efforts. Included in the comprehensive plan are the Future Land Use Map and the Future Future Thoroughfare Map.
All property within the Athens city limits is zoned for one or multiple uses within a Zoning District. These uses are codified in the Athens Zoning Ordinance. The City of Athens has 17 zoning districts, each with a different set of allowable uses, spatial regulations and other development standards. The Athens Zoning Map is a visual representation of the zoning status for all properties in the city.
While each property in the City is assigned a zoning district, property owners may apply to change the zoning designation of one or more properties. Development Applications for a zoning change may be submitted to the Development Services Department. All applications for a zoning change must be heard by the Planning and Zoning Commission and a first and final reading by the City Council.
The City of Athens may, in specific cases, a grant variance from one or more of the terms of the Zoning Ordinance if the variance is not contrary to the public interest and, due to special conditions, a literal enforcement of the Ordinance would result in unnecessary hardship for the property owner. All variance requests must be submitted via a Development Application. Variance requests are heard by the Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA) and the decision of the ZBA may only be overturned by a district court.