What is the DeKalb County Planning Commission Meeting?

After the Community Council meeting, the third official public zoning meeting in unincorporated DeKalb County is the Planning Commission meeting. The job of the Planning Commission is to review rezoning, special land use permits (SLUPs), and land use amendment requests. Planning Commission members analyze the site plans from the developer, hear public comments and review the recommendations made by the Planning Staff and the Community Council. After reviewing all materials, the Planning Commision will vote based on their findings. Similar to the Community Council, the vote is considered a recommendation only and is non-binding. The DeKalb County Board of Commissioners will consider this recommendation when making a final decision at the Board of Commissioners meeting.

You can read the official bylaws of the Planning Commission on the DeKalb Planning website here [PDF] (Updated 2013).

When and where is the Planning Commission meeting held?

Planning Commission meetings are held in the evenings at 6:30pm in the Manuel Maloof Auditorium in downtown Decatur (1300 Commerce Drive, Decatur, GA 30030). The meeting dates and times are scheduled a full year in advance. Unlike the Community Council meeting, which is held in a town-hall format, the Planning Commission meeting is a formal public meeting.

You can find the complete Planning Commission schedule on the DeKalb Planning website here [PDF]. (Updated November, 2017)

Parking

Street parking is free after 6pm everywhere in downtown Decatur. If you arrive early, you can pay for street parking using a meter on the street, or you can download the free Parkmobile app for your phone. You’ll need to know your vehicle tag number for either option! The DeKalb County Courthouse parking deck (located directly across the street) is $6 all day.

Who are the members of the Planning Commission?

The Planning Commission is an appointed group of citizens made up of nine (9) members. Unlike the Community Council, which is a group of volunteers, the Planning Commission is a paid (part-time) staff position. Each of the 7 District Commissioners (5 District Commissioners & 2 Super-District Commissioners), along with the DeKalb County CEO, appoints a member of the Planning Commission. One additional appointment is made by a majority vote of the commissioners. Each member must live in the district of their appointing commissioner and can serve serve as long as their commissioner is in office or a successor is appointed. They also must complete a county-sponsored training session.

You can find a current roster of Planning Commission members on the DeKalb County Planning website here [PDF] (Updated Oct, 2017).

What happens during the Planning Commission meeting?


First, the developer will present their plans

A typical Planning Commission meeting includes zoning applications from each of the 5 districts in DeKalb County. The applicant of each zoning item, usually a developer, investor or landowner, has 10 minutes to make a presentation supporting their application. These presentations are similar to the ones made during the Community Council meeting. Since the Planning Commission meeting is more formal than the previous Community Council meeting, the 10 minute time limit is very strict. The applicantRefers to a developer, investor or landowner who is seeking a change in zoning or land use to their property. must make their complete presentation within the 10 minute time allotment as no rebuttal time is given during this meeting.


Public comments are then heard by the Commission

Once the applicant has completed their presentation, the Planning Commission chairperson will open the floor to hear comments from the public. These are divided into two groups: (1) people who support the application and (2) people who oppose the application. Similar to the time given to the applicant, each side is given 10 minutes to express their support or opposition with the application. Again, the 10 minute time limit is strict and each side is expected to stay within the limit.

A speaker card is required

Before you can speak in support or opposition, you must fill out and present a speaker card. These cards are located at the front door when you walk in.

Each speaker's name is recorded in the Planning Commission minutes, along with their designation for support or opposition.

DeKalb County Speaker Card

A speaker card is required

Before you can speak in support or opposition, you must fill out and present a speaker card. These cards are located at the front door when you walk in.

Each speaker's name is recorded in the Planning Commission minutes, along with their designation for support or opposition.

DeKalb County Speaker Card

The Planning Commission depends on your input

Because of the time restrictions, it’s important that you use your time efficiently and effectively when you speak. Make sure your comments are clear and concise & try to get your point across as quickly as possible while staying on topic. It helps to have your comments written in advance so you can refer to them or read directly from them when you approach the podium. If you are part of a group such as your neighborhood, consider appointing a speaker to talk on behalf of the whole group. While your neighborhood representative is speaking, your entire group should stand to show support & solidarity. Having the fewest number of speakers representing the greatest number of people is always an effective approach.


Planning Staff and Community Council Recommendations

After the public input is heard, the DeKalb County Zoning Administrator will then present the Planning Staff Recommendation as well as the Community Council Recommendation for the agenda item. The Planning Commission will use these recommendations, along with the public input and the presentation of the developer, to make their recommendation to the DeKalb County Board of Commissioners. The Planning Commission vote is non-binding and is only a recommendation to be considered by the Board of Commissioners.

Planning Commission Recommendation Options:

The Planning Commission can choose from 6 different options to make their recommendation:

  • Approval
  • Approval with ConditionsConditions are a set of additional written rules or regulations that can be added to a zoning application. Zoning conditions may be requested by an applicant, recommended by the planning department... More
  • Two-Week Deferral
  • Full-Cycle Deferral (60 days)
  • Denial
  • Abstain

Find out what these terms mean in our Zoning Process Overview >>

Planning Commission
Recommendation Options:

The Planning Commission can choose from 6 different options to make their recommendation:

  • Approval
  • Approval with Conditions
  • Two-Week Deferral
  • Full-Cycle Deferral (60 days)
  • Denial
  • Abstain

Find out what these terms mean in our Zoning Process Overview >>

Important

Remember, regardless of the voting result by the Planning Commission (including a Deferral or Denial), the application will still advance to the next Board of Commissioners meeting (in 2 weeks). Make sure you attend!

Planning Commission Meeting Pro Tips:

Remember these important tips to ensure a successful meeting.

Fill out a speaker card

If you plan on speaking in favor or in opposition to an application, you must fill out a speaker card before you approach the podium! These cards, along with the agenda are available at the front door when you walk in.

Prepare your remarks in advance

It's helpful to have a prepared speech or written notes when you address the Planning Commission. This will help you stay on point and cover as many important topics as possible!

Assign a speaker

If you're part of a group or neighborhood, consider assigning a speaker to represent the the whole group. Have your entire group stand when your speaker is talking to show support and solidarity in the group.

Consider wearing matching colors

Sometimes it helps make a clear point when your group wears matching shirt colors, such as green (for support/go) or red (for oppose/stop).

Try to eat before the meeting if possible

Planning Commission meetings can run late (typically between 10pm & 11pm). Eating a meal before the meeting will supply you with energy and attentiveness in case your meeting runs longer than expected.

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Next Step!

The next public meeting is the Board of Commissioners meeting.
Let’s take a look at what to expect…

Next Step!

The next public meeting is the Board of Commissioners meeting.
Let’s take a look at what to expect…