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There is some confusing information being circulated about Historic Designation that does not pass our fact checking.  

Below is factual information that has been vetted by either Doug Young, the City Preservation Staff or sited sources.  Click on each FACT for more information.

FACT: Historic Designation PROTECTS against future rezoning attempts by the City and takes precedent over other zoning categories.

For matters of zoning in the City of Atlanta, the most restrictive or more specific zoning classification or requirement takes precedent over other zoning 

classifications or requirements unless there is something that is not specifically called out in the otherwise more restrictive or specific zoning classification.

The MRMU legislation that was proposed last year stated in SECTION 2. " All parcels in this rezoning that are located in any historic overlay or landmark district must meet the historic preservation requirements of the district.”

As an example:

In Inman Park, the following would generally be the zoning “hierarchy” (from “top” to “bottom”) - HD (historic district), then BeltLine Overlay, then R-5, and then R. 

If the MR-MU zoning had been approved as proposed last year, MR-MU would have replaced R5 coming after BeltLine Overlay but before R.

FACT: No Historic or Landmark District has EVER been overturned by the City of Atlanta.  If the City wanted to undo a Historic District the process is comprehensive.

For historic districts (HD), there is a very specific process that must be followed to create a historic district (the standard process for historic district designation). 

If the Atlanta City Council or anybody else wanted to undo the HD zoning, there would be a process to follow as well – the general City of Atlanta rezoning process, as follows:

  • Application filed to rezone the Historic District with the Office of Zoning and Development
  • First Read from the Zoning Committee of Atlanta City Council, rezoning application / legislation referred to Zoning Review Board
  • Assigned to appropriate NPU for review, which typically includes review by the affected neighborhood / neighborhood organization(s)
  • NPU meeting which provides a recommendation to the Department of City Planning and the Zoning Review Board
  • UDC Hearing which provides recommendation to the Zoning Review board
  • Zoning Review Board which provides recommendation to Zoning Committee of Atlanta City Council
  • Zoning Committee of City Council which provides recommendation to the full Atlanta City Council
  • City Council votes to approve or deny the rezoning application / legislation
  • Mayor signs or vetoes the rezoning application / legislation if the Atlanta City Council approves it

The Atlanta City Council must follow this process and has no authority to vote on a rezoning application / legislation without the above process being followed.

Since 1989, when the current Historic Preservation Ordinance was enacted, no historic district zoning status has ever been removed. Neighborhoods with HD designation can “tweak/update” their ordinance but those changes must follow the preceding process.   A HD designation can be expanded as well but the standard process for creating a historic district (which involves more steps than those noted above) must be followed for that new / added area. 

FACT: Historic Designation WOULD have protected Inman Park if MRMU had been passed last summer.

As for the MR-MU zoning, IF it had passed as proposed at that time, Inman Park HD designation would still have been in place and governed all of the topics it normally 

covered . No historic houses or buildings could be demolished without having received the required Type IV Certificate of Appropriateness from the Urban Design Commission.  

This demolition approval requirement for historic houses or buildings would limit what someone can do with the property that has a historic house or building on it, based on the 

Inman Park HD regulations.  Also, for any new construction within the historic district, the historic district design requirements would still have had to be met. 

FACT: The Georgia Trust says that Ansley Park’s status on the National Register of Historic Places IS at risk.

"Although the neighborhood is listed in the National Register of Historic Places, it has not been designated by the city as a Local Historic District, which would offer protections from demolition through city ordinance. Without that protection and review, the past decade has seen many historic, architecturally significant homes demolished and replaced with insensitive infill. Nearing a point of no return, the district risks losing its National Register designation if too many contributing buildings in the neighborhood are lost, and the city risks losing some of its finest architectural heritage.”

The Georgia Trust's executive director, Mark McDonald says: "It’s at the tipping point. Only 54 percent of the houses there are original. If you lose them and other historic homes and buildings, we become more generic and less distinctive every day. It leads to a loss of quality of life and enjoyment. These homes and places are in peril. Go see them while you can.”


FACT: Historic Designation stabilizes neighborhoods and IMPROVES home values.

A 2019 study in Georgia found “significant positive effects” on property values, up 7% in locally designated historic districts compared to the mean in Fulton & Dekalb. 


FACT: Historic Designation CAN shape the size, scale and siting of future infill.

In a Historic District, new buildings would need to follow the set-backs, lot coverage, height and floor-to-area ratio standards determined by the neighborhood.   In the proposed draft of Interim Controls, use of the compatibility rule could ensure that the front set-back of a new house follows the siting pattern set by the adjacent contributing houses and a transitional height plane could mitigate the massing effects of flat-roofed buildings. 

FACT: There is STILL design freedom in a Historic District.

As currently proposed, new buildings can be Contemporary in form, ensuring diversity in architecture. All homeowners can make design choices such as replacing doors and windows with different styles, painting their homes (even brick), adding or enclosing a porch and making additions etc.

FACT: Historic Designation does NOT create a unique situation for neighbors to sue one another.

In the past 30 years with the 22 historic and landmark districts in Atlanta, lawsuits between neighbors over Certificates of Appropriateness or variances are not commonplace.  Those who file lawsuits must show they have “standing” to bring the lawsuit as well .  Under our current zoning, any neighbor can appeal the issuance of a permit or variance to the City of Atlanta’s Board of Zoning Adjustment.  If they are not satisfied with that outcome, that decision could be appealed to the Superior Court as well.

FACT: Doing nothing will NOT allow us to keep our current zoning.

The City is rewriting the entire zoning ordinance, more changes will come this summer

The Comprehensive Development Plan that sets zoning policy was passed last year with only administrative edits, the “more robust update will begin in 2022"

The MRMU legislation was temporarily defeated but the housing problems it meant to address have NOT gone away.  New Federal affordable housing plan could reboot the initiative.

Want to learn more about why Ansley Park needs to be considering Historic Designation NOW? Visit saveansleypark.org

(saveansleypark.org is a grassroots website developed by neighborhood volunteers and is not affiliated with any group)

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