Zoning Terminology

last updated July 20, 1999
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This is a list of terms related to zoning and land use.



For more information on zoning in DeKalb County call the DeKalb Planning Department at 404 371-2155. Their office is located at 1300 Commerce Drive, Decatur.

Land Use categories define general uses and intensity for property. Several different zoning categories will be allowed within a land use category.

Zoning categories provide more detail regarding exact allowed uses, setbacks from public roads, setbacks from adjacent property, as well as size and height limits.

A rezoning application is required to change from one zoning category to another. If the rezoning requested does not match the existing land use category, then a land use amendment AND a rezoning application are required.

For historical reasons these categories are called Land Use Districts and Zoning Districts. The use of the word districts should not be confused with the zoning maps which shows the current zoning of parcels.


Single Family Zoning Definitions
Non-Single Family Zoning Definitions
Residential Land Use Definitions
Non-Residential Land Use Definitions

DeKalb Zoning District Definitions

These definitions are summaries only, the full definitions take several pages each in the Zoning Ordinances text. These definitions are from Planning Department material.

Single family zoning categories

R-200 - Rural Residential District
A district for limited residential and agricultural uses which allows not more than one principal dwelling unit per acre
R-150 - Suburban Residential District
A single family residential district which allows not more than one dwelling unit per acre for areas with or without urban services.
R-30,000 - Suburban Residential District
A single family residential district which allows up to 1.4 dwelling unit per acre for areas with or without urban services.
R-20,000 - Suburban Residential District
A single family residential district which allows up to 2.1 dwelling unit per acre for areas with or without urban services.
R-100 - Single Family Residential Districts
Single family residential districts which allow up to 2.8 dwelling units per acre with provisions for customary accessory uses.
R-85 - Single Family Residential Districts
Single family residential districts which allow up to 3.5 dwelling units per acre with provisions for customary accessory uses.
R-75 - Single Family Residential Districts
Single family residential districts which allow up to 4.3 dwelling units per acre with provisions for customary accessory uses.
R-60 - Single Family Residential Districts
Single family residential districts which allow up to 5 dwelling units per acre with provisions for customary accessory uses.
R-A5 - Single Family Residential District
Residential districts which allow up to 5 dwelling units per acre for attached or detached single family dwelling units.
R-50 - Single Family Residential District
A single family residential district which allows a maximum of 7.2 dwelling units per acre, designed for large homes on small lots with provisions for customary accessory uses.
R-A8 - Single Family Residential District
Residential districts which allow up to 8 dwelling units per acre for attached or detached single family dwelling units.

Non-single family home zoning categories

R-DT - Two and Three-Family Residential District
A two- and three-family residential district which allows a maximum of six dwelling units per acre with provisions for customary accessory uses.
RM-150 - Multiple Family Residential District
Multifamily residential districts which allow up to 6 dwelling units per acre with provisions for customary accessory uses.
RM-100 - Multiple Family Residential District
Multifamily residential districts which allow up to 12 dwelling units per acre with provisions for customary accessory uses.
RM-85 - Multiple Family Residential District
Multifamily residential districts which allow up to 14 dwelling units per acre with provisions for customary accessory uses.
RM-75 - Multiple Family Residential District
Multifamily residential districts which allow up to 18 dwelling units per acre with provisions for customary accessory uses.
RM-HD - Multiple Family Residential District
A multifamily residential district which allows up to 30 dwelling units per acre with provisions for customary accessory uses.
MHP - Mobile Home Parks
A district for mobile home parks
TND - Traditional Neighborhood Development District
A zoning district to permit a variety in type, design, and arrangement of residential structures. Appropriate areas include tracts of land where there is the presence of waterways, flood plains, wetlands, natural and archaeological resources, or historic buildings or sites.
OI - Office-Institution District
A district for offices, institutional, and limited commercial activities not involving the sale, storage, or processing of merchandise unless otherwise permitted.
OD - Office Distribution District
A district for office and distribution facilities not involving the manufacturing, fabrication, repair, or servicing of any commodity or product and or limited commercial activities not involving the retail sale of merchandise unless otherwise permitted.
OCR - Office-Commercial-Residential District
A district for mixed residential and commercial development and redevelopment, intended to provide residential dwelling units in unused commercial and light industrial districts.
NS - Neighborhood Shopping District
A district for planned shopping centers and limited retail activities conducted in a unified development designed to serve the surrounding neighborhood and community with convenience goods, retail services, and personal services.
C-1 - Local Commercial District
A district for planned shopping centers and independent uses designed to serve a community or area with convenience goods and shopper goods, retail services, and personal services.
C-2 - General Commercial District
A district for general business and limited manufacturing activities, including retail sales and personal services.
M - Industrial District
A district primarily for planned industrial areas and related activities.
M2 - Industrial District
A district for specialized recreation, general industrial, heavy manufacturing, and related activities.

DeKalb Land Use Categories


There are 16 land use categories defined, the first six are residential categories. Land use categories are broad descriptions. Each land use category includes several zoning categories which are more specific as to permitted uses and restrictions.

Residential land use categories

LDR - Low Density Residential
Includes single family, detached-unit residential development at a maximum net density of 0 to 4 dwelling units per acre. This land use categore includes large areas of the County which are already developed in single family residential subdivisions at a net density of two to three and a half units per acre, and it includes those areas which are likely to develop in a similar manner over the next twenty years. Also, some churches, cemeteries and other institutions are designated as LDR where the county intends those properties to remain as similar institutions or revert to LDR when the respective church, cemetery, or institutional use is discontinued.

The Low Density Residential land use category also includes the less intensively developed rural and suburban fringe areas of the County which are not likely to exceed one residential unit per acre. Residential lands which have significant constraints to development that reduce the carrying capacity to less than four units per acre. A watershed protection corridor along the Yellow River is also included within this land use category. Therefore, this land use category may include a range of lot sizes from quarter acre lots up to lots of five to ten acres in size.
LMR - Low-Medium Density Residential
Includes single family detached, single family attached, duplex, triplex, townhouse, and condominium types of development at a maximum net density of 0 to 8 dwelling units per acre. Also, some churches, cemeteries and other institutions are designated as LMR where the county intends those properties to remain as similar institutions or revert to LMR when the respective church, cemetery, or institutional use is discontinued.
MDR - Medium Density Residential
Includes single family detached, single family attached, duplex, triplex, townhouse, and condominium types of development at a density of 0 to 12 dwelling units per acre.
MHR - Medium-High Density Residential
Includes single family detached, single family attached, duplex, triplex, townhouse, condominiums, and multi-family apartment types of development at a net density of 0 to 18 dwelling units per acre.
HDR - Medium Density Residential
Includes single family detached, single family attached, duplex, triplex, townhouse, and condominiums, and multi-family apartment types of development at a maximum net density of 18.1 to 30 dwelling units per acre.
VHR - Very High Density Residential
Includes multi-family apartments and high rise apartment types of development at a net density of greater than 30 dwelling units per acre. Buildings in this category will likely exceed five stories in height and will occur as part of larger intensively developed mixed-use centers.

Non-residential land use categories

LIC - Low Intensity Commercial
Includes ther more traditional suburban neighborhood and community oriented stores and shopping centers located throughout the county. Properties identified as Low Intensity Commercial tend to be single-use oriented, have less intensive employee/acre ratios and rarely exceed two stories.
HIC - High Intensity Commercial
Includes regional commercial centers and other intensively developed centers where commercial land uses predominate. Retail commercial uses are anticipated to represent 50% or more, of the land in this category. The Perimeter Center and Northlake Malls are considered to be High Intensity commercial centers.
OPR - Office/Professional
Includes the less intensive office and professional center land uses including low-rise office parks, single free standing office buildings, depository facilities such as banks, and residential structures converted to office use. Office land uses tend to be single-use oriented and have less intensive employee/acre ratios.
OMX - Office/Mixed Use
Includes intensively developed office lands and mixed-use centers where office uses represent 50% or more of the land uses. However, mixed commercial, entertainment, recreation and residential land uses may be found in variable lesser amounts within the Office/Mixed-Use land use areas. The office developments around Perimeter Center and Northlake Malls, and at Century Center and Executive Park serve as examples of this land use category.
IND - Industrial
Includes light and heavy distribution, warehouse, assembly, manufacturing, quarry, and truck terminal land uses throughout DeKalb County. This land use classification includes the County's landfills.
TCU - Transportation/Communication/Utilities
Includes public, semi-public and private land uses which provide transportation, communications or utility land uses. These uses may include road and railroad rights-of-way, oil, gas and water, electric power and telephone, transmission lines, radio stations, raw water reservoirs and treatment facilities, and wastewater treatment plants.
INS - Institutional
Includes community facilities and institutions which are anticipated to remain in public use throughout the planning period. These lands include: government-owned administration buildings and offices, fire stations, public hospitals and health care facilities, day care centers, public schools, colleges and educational research lands. Cemeteries, churches, and other religious facilities not designated in Low Density Residential or Low Medium Density Residential are included in this land use category. The plan anticipates that institutional uses in residential areas will continue as the current use. If an institutional use vacates property in residential areas then the property should be redeveloped as a low density residential use, for example, the Georgia Mental Health Instititute and Georgia Regional Hospital.
POS - Public and Private Parks and Open Space
Includes parks, golf courses, reservations, state forests, and floodplains. These areas may be either publicly or privately owned and may include playgrounds, nature preserves, wildlife management areas, recreation center and similar uses.
AGR - Agriculture
Includes such uses as orchards, sod-farms, pasture land, croplands and attendant farm residences and outbuildings.
VAC - Vacant and Undeveloped
Includes forested areas, undeveloped lands, and land not used for any other identified purposes.


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