A good case can be made that DeKalb County should enact interim development controls, in accordance with DeKalb County Code Section 27-789, to control teardown/infill housing, and then should draft permanent controls.   A rough draft of what such an interim development control ordinance might include follows.  The listed "purposes" are taken from existing sections 27-2 and 27-142 of the DeKalb County Code.


DeKalb County

Ordinance ______


AN ORDINANCE TO impose interim development controls for the Protection of the public health, safety and welfare (in accordance with Section 27-789 of the Code of DeKalb County).

WHEREAS, the rapid imposition of interim development controls are necessary:

  1. To protect the established character and the social and economic well-being of both private and public property;
  2. To provide for adequate light, air, convenience of access, and safety from fire, flood, and other dangers;
  3. To facilitate the creation of a convenient, attractive and harmonious community;
  4. To encourage an aesthetically attractive environment, both built and natural, and to provide for regulations that protect and enhance these aesthetic considerations;
  5. To protect against overcrowding of land, obstruction of light and air;
  6. To provide for infill development in neighborhoods in a manner compatible with existing development; and

WHEREAS, The demolition of existing housing and replacement with infill housing incompatible with existing development has become common in certain neighborhoods of DeKalb County; and

WHEREAS, the current zoning ordinance of DeKalb County, Chapter 27 of the Code of DeKalb County, does not fully or adequately address this activity in the county; and

WHEREAS, the existing zoning ordinance would continue to allow looming structures that: (1) are not in scale with surrounding development, (2) adversely affect a neighbor’s privacy and available sunlight, (3) disrupt the architectural character of existing neighborhoods, (4) result in removal of mature trees and landscaping, (5) reduce affordable housing, (6) increase runoff, and

WHEREAS, this teardown epidemic threatens to destroy the very qualities that have made these neighborhoods attractive, and

WHEREAS, this activity results in the houses in these neighborhoods being seen as mere buildable lots rather than homes, discouraging improvements and maintenance, and limiting their value, and

WHEREAS, a study is required to identify new regulations that are appropriate and necessary to address these problems; and

WHEREAS, interim regulations are appropriate and necessary to avoid irreversible harm that would otherwise occur during the time required to complete such a study,

WHEREAS, the ordinance will take effect immediately, but will not affect any applications filed prior to the effective date of this ordinance; and

WHEREAS, it is in the interest of health, safety, welfare, and aesthetics of the citizens of DeKalb County, Georgia to establish interim regulation in the Code of DeKalb County regarding zoning and land use, which will be considered with the Code of DeKalb County, the laws of the State of Georgia, and the constitution of both the State of Georgia and the United States of America; and

WHEREAS, pursuant to the Georgia Constitution, the Official Code of Georgia, and the Code of DeKalb County, the Board of Commissioners of DeKalb County has the authority to regulate land use within unincorporated DeKalb County;

NOW THEREFORE, BE IT ORDAINED BY THE BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS OF DEKALB COUNTY, GEORGIA, and it is hereby ordained by the authority of same, that Chapter 27 of the DeKalb County Code, shall be amended to revise the rules governing zoning and land use in DeKalb County:

Part 1. Enactment. The text of Chapter 27, including errata, is hereby amended by as follows:



Article I. General Regulations

Division 1. General Provisions

Sec. 27-___.


These interim regulatory controls will be in effect for one hundred eighty (180) days, and may be extended as allowed by the Code of DeKalb County.

The DeKalb County Planning Commission, assisted by the Planning Department, shall conduct a study to determine appropriate and necessary permanent regulations.   Input from the public shall be solicited and considered.   A draft ordinance containing such proposed regulations shall be prepared for consideration by the Board of Commissioners.



Any word or phrase not defined below but otherwise defined in the Code of Ordinances shall be given that meaning.   All other words or phrases shall be given their common ordinary meaning unless the context clearly requires otherwise.

ADJACENT HOUSING.   Housing located on lots that physically touch the lot on which teardown/infill housing is to be built or on which existing housing is to be substantially altered, provided that both lots have frontage on the same street.   [Corner lots have frontage on more than one street, therefore housing on such lots may have adjacent housing on more than one street.]   Lots separated from streets by reserve strips or by extensions of other lots less than 25 feet deep, have frontage for the purpose of this definition.

BUILDING HEIGHT.   The vertical distance from grade plane to the average height of the highest roof surface.

GRADE PLANE.   A reference plane representing the average of finished ground level adjourning the building at exterior walls excluding new fill placed above the lowest level of the house (including any basement).   Where the finished ground level slopes away from the exterior walls, the reference plane shall be established by the lowest points within the area between the building and the lot line or, where the lot line is more than 6 feet from the building, between the building and a point 6 feet from the building.

SUBSTANTIALLY ALTERED EXISTING HOUSING.   Existing housing altered by increasing the enclosed volume by more than 75 percent, or by increasing the building height by more than ten feet.

TEARDOWN/INFILL HOUSING.   New housing replacing demolished existing housing.


Interim Control

Where new teardown/infill housing, or substantially altered existing housing, is adjacent to existing housing more than ten years old, the building height of such teardown/infill housing, or substantially altered existing housing, should be no more than 10 feet greater than the building height of any adjacent housing, when the teardown/infill housing, or substantially altered existing housing, is located at a setback from the property line of 10 feet or less.   With each additional foot of setback, an additional six inches of height shall be permitted to a maximum of 15 feet greater than the building height of the adjacent housing.