FAQ

Overview

Below are common and frequently asked questions received by the staff in the Planning and Development Department. Click on the form category (below) to jump to that form category:

Business Licensing

  • Q: Do I need a business License?
    • A: each business which provides a service or sells goods and products within the Snellville City limits is required to obtain a business license/occupation tax certificate.
  • Q. How can I verify that the business location I want to operate from is in the Snellville City limits?
    • A: Please use the 'Am I in the City' webform tool to to confirm that your business location is in the City.
  • Q: Can I operate a business from my home that is in the Snellville City limits?
    • A: Yes, provided the home business is allowed as a 'limited' use in the zoning district where you live and the business use conforms to the use standards of UDO Sec. 206-8.12 and which is not specifically prohibited.
  • Q: What does the term "gross receipts" mean?
    • A: Gross receipts are monies received by a business for services provided or from the sale of goods and products in the state of Georgia and which do not include deductions or subtractions like cost of goods sold, business expenses, salaries and payroll, etc. (see the following question).
  • Q: What can be deducted from the reporting of gross receipts?
    • A: The following can be deducted: sales, use, or excise tax; sales returns, allowances and discounts; inter-organizational sales or transfers; payments made to a subcontractor or independent agent; governmental and foundation grants; charitable contributions; and proceeds from sales to customers outside the state of Georgia. 
  • Q: How can I obtain a FEIN/Tax ID number?
  • Q: How do I register my business name so that someone else doesn't use it?
  • Q: When does my Business License expire and do I need to renew it?
    • A: All Business Licenses expire December 31st of each year and need to be renewed before April 1st of the following year to avoid penalties and interest, and possible fines.
  • Q: I need electrical power restored to my newly leased tenant space and the power company says they need approval from the City before power can be restored.  How can I get the City to provide the power company with such approval?
    • A: If you WILL be doing any improvements to the leased space that are non-cosmetic in nature (i.e. walls erected/removed, electrical, plumbing, HVAC, etc.) a building permit must first be obtained from the City.  Upon request and passage of a temporary power inspection, an approval will be faxed to Walton EMC authorizing electrical service at your location.
    • A: If you WILL NOT be doing any improvements to the leased space that require an approved Building Permit, you will need to complete a Utility Safety Inspection request. There is a $25.00 inspection fee. After successful passage of the inspection by the Building Inspector, the Department of Planning and Development will send written approval to Walton EMC, allowing you to complete the utility account setup process.
  • Q: What is a secure and verifiable document?
    • A: A secure and verifiable document is a government issued picture I.D. of the individual signing the document and is most commonly a state issued driver's license, U.S. Passport or Permanent Resident Card for U.S. Citizens and permanent residents, and an Employment Authorization Document for non-permanent residents.  Click here to access the Attorney General of Georgia's website for a complete listing of secure and verifiable documents.
  • Q: What should I do if I haven’t yet received the documents for renewing my business/occupation tax certificate?
    • A: Renewal documents are mailed in mid-late December to all business with a valid business/occupation tax certificate the current year. The renewal forms are unique to each account and contain information specific to each business including. Contact the Planning and Development Department at 770-985-3513 or 3514 to request renewal documents which can be sent by postal delivery or in electronic format by email. 

Building Permits

  • Q: When is a building permit required?
    • A: A building permit is required for any addition or structural modification to your existing living space including accessory structures (sheds and detached garages), decks and porches, basement finishing, and swimming pools/hot tubs with more than 24 inches of water; electrical modifications; plumbing work (even replacing that rusty old water heater); window modifications that alter the opening sizes; mechanical system installations; modification of the roof line of your home; septic system and sewer modifications; and major demolitions.  When in doubt, contact the Planning and Development Department at 770-985-3513 or 3514..
    • A: A building permit is NOT required for interior cosmetic changes like new carpet, hardwood flooring, new paint, paneling and the installation of new countertops, trim like crown molding, baseboard and casing.
  • Q: I want to build a storage shed in my backyard and understand I need to obtain a Building Permit.  Do I need to have an architect prepare the construction plans?
    • A: No, plans may be hand-drawn, but drawn to scale and must include enough detail so that the Building Inspector completing the plan review has a good understanding of the scope of the project and that it will be constructed in compliance with the building codes.  Remember to include a Site Location Plan to ensure compliance with the zoning district building setbacks.  Please review UDO Sec. 201-1.6 and Sec. 206-8.26 for zoning requirements for storage sheds and other accessory structures. An instructional handout may be viewed here.
  • Q: What are the required construction and fire codes for construction in the City?
    • A: Click here for the list of applicable codes.
  • Q: Is a Building Permit required for walls and retaining walls?
    • A:  A Building Permit is required for any wall or retaining wall that is 4 feet in height or higher or where the slope of backfill materials exceeds 1 foot rise in 3 feet length.
  • Q: Is a Building Permit required to finish the basement of my home or to enclose my garage?
    • A: Yes, a Building Permit must be obtained prior to starting the work.
  • Q: How can I obtain information regarding the construction I’ve noticed at my neighbor’s property?
    • A: Contact the Planning & Development Department at 770-985-3513 or 3514 to learn whether or not a building permit has been issued for the work in progress. If a permit has not yet been issued, a Code Enforcement Officer will be assigned to visit the site and ensure that the construction is properly permitted and inspected. Construction without the proper permit can also be reported online by using the 'Report a Problem' tab.
  • Q: Am I allowed to construct accessory buildings within a drainage easement on my property?
    • A: No, permanent structures including but not limited to accessory buildings, swimming pools, and decks may not be constructed within drainage easements as shown on the subdivision Final Plat.
  • Q: I have an underground sanitary sewer pipe that runs parallel to my rear property line. Can I still erect a privacy fence along my rear property line?
    • A: No, permanent structures including fencing may be located within any sanitary sewer easement. Please refer to the subdivision plat or lot survey for the location of the easement.  

Floodplain Management and Flood Damage Prevention

  • Q: Where can I get more information about Floodplain Protection for the City of Snellville?
    • A: The city's Floodplain Protection regulations are in UDO Sec. 403-4.
  • Q: I live in a low-risk flood zone.  Do I really need flood insurance?
    • A: Even though flood insurance isn't federally required, anyone can be financially vulnerable to floods. In fact, people outside of mapped high-risk flood areas file over 20-percent of all National Flood Insurance Program flood insurance claims and receive one-third of Federal Disaster Assistance for flooding. When it's available, disaster assistance is typically a loan you must repay with interest. A Preferred Risk Policy provides both building and contents coverage for properties in moderate- to low-risk areas for one low-price.
  • Q: If my home is flooded, won't federal disaster assistance pay for my damages?
    • A: Not necessarily.  Federal disaster assistance typically comes in the form of a low interest loan to help cover flood damage, not compensation for your losses.
  • Q: Doesn't my homeowners insurance policy cover flooding?
    • A: No.  Flood damage is not typically covered by a homeowners insurance policy.  Consult your insurance carrier about your policy coverage.
  • Q: Why does my mortgage lender require me to buy flood insurance?
    • A: Under federal law, the purchase of flood insurance is mandatory for all federal or federally related financial assistance for the acquisition and/or construction of buildings in high-risk flood areas (Special Flood Hazard Areas or SFHAs).  If the property is not in a high-risk area, but instead in a moderate- to low-risk area, federal law does not require flood insurance; however, a lender can still require it. In fact, over 20-percent of all flood insurance claims come from areas outside of mapped high-risk flood zones. Note that if during the life of the loan the maps are revised and the property is now in the high-risk area, your lender will notify you that you must purchase flood insurance.
  • Q: Who do I contact if I want to purchase a flood insurance policy?
    • A:  The National Flood Insurance Program has an arrangement with private insurance companies to sell and service flood insurance policies.  Contact your insurance agent or company to find out more about federal flood insurance.
  • Q: How do I find out whether or not my property is at risk, and if it is, at what level?
    • A:  Use the Georgia Flood Mapping Assessment & Planning website to find the flood risk for your property.  A FIRM is a map created by the NFIP for floodplain management and insurance purposes. A FIRM will generally show a community's base flood elevations, flood zones, and floodplain boundaries. As a property owner/renter, you can use this map to get a reliable indication of what flood zone you're in. However, maps are constantly being updated due to changes in geography, construction and mitigation activities, and meteorological events. Therefore, for a truly accurate determination, contact your insurance agent or company, or your community floodplain manager.
  • Q: Where can I get more information about FEMA's National Flood Insurance Program?

Quality of Life (Code Enforcement)

  • Q: Do I need a garage sale permit?
    • A: No.  Garage sales do not require a permit; however they are regulated in UDO Sec. 206-9.7 with the duration of the sale not exceeding 72-hours; sale may not occur more frequently than four times during any 12-month period; and no goods purchased for resale or consignment goods may be offered for sale.
    • A. Signage advertising the garage sale may not be placed within the public right-of-way or attached to any street sign, traffic control device or utility pole. Signage may only be placed on private property with the property owner's permission. Signage shall be subject to the Sign Ordinance regulations.
  • Q: My neighbor has several dogs he keeps in the backyard that bark continuously for hours. Who should I contact to file a noise complaint?
    • A: Complaints may be filed with the Gwinnett County Animal Welfare unit (770-339-3200) Monday-Friday 8:30 am to 4:00 pm or the Snellville Police Department 770-985-3555.
  • Q: My neighbor has an above-ground pool in his backyard; however the backyard is not fenced.  Isn't he required to fence the backyard to keep small children from wandering into his backyard and entering the pool unattended?
    • A. Above ground pools at least 4 feet in height do not require that the backyard be fenced, as the wall of the pool serves as the 4-feet barrier; provided the ladder or steps are capable of being secured, locked or removed to prevent access, or if the ladder or steps are surrounded by a barrier at least 4 feet high.  Above ground pools less than 4 feet in height or inground pools are required to have a protective barrier (fence).
  • Q: When can I burn yard waste?
    • A: Refer to the Burn Day Information on the Gwinnett County Fire and Emergency Services website or call 678-518-4979.
  • Q: Does the City require vacant real property or foreclosed real property to be registered?
    • A: No; however the property owner is required to maintain the property in compliance with the property maintenance codes of the City until such time that title to the property is transferred to a new property owner or back to the mortgage lender.
  • Q: There is a undeveloped lot in my subdivision that is overgrown with trees and vegetation.  Can the City require the property owner to clean up the property?
    • A: Unless there is illegal dumping occurring on the property, the City's property maintenance codes provide an exemption for undeveloped lots which are not required to maintain the tree and vegetative growth on the lot.  However, the City's Public Works Department can maintain the right-of-way (area adjacent to the street up to the property line of the vacant lot) if the street is a public City maintained street.

Signs

  • Q: I have my rental property available for rent and want to place 'For Rent' signs at the entrance to my subdivision and at some of the area intersections.  Can I do this without having these signs be removed?
    • A: The signs described are considered 'temporary signs' and may only be erected on private property with the property owners permission. Each property is allowed up to 32 sq. ft. of temporary signs, with no more than 8 temporary signs on display at any onetime.  Signs may not be placed on traffic control signs (stop signs, street signs, etc.) or utility poles and may not be placed within the public right-of-way which is the area including the street and 12-15 feet strip between the street and property boundary.  Signs placed within the public right-of-way will be removed and discarded.
  • Q: Where can I find out more information about the City's sign regulations including the 'do's' and 'don'ts''?

Water, Sewer and Stormwater

  • Q: How can I determine if a specific property is served by a gravity sewer or by a septic system?
  • Q: Who can I contact to obtain information on septic tanks?
  • Q: Who can I contact regarding water, sewer and stormwater emergencies including damaged pipes and water leaks located in the County right-of-way or easement, sanitary sewer overflow, water/sewer and stormwater easement maintenance, illegal dumping into the storm drain system, flooding, and drainage problems?
    • A: Contact the Gwinnett County Department of Water Resources call center at 678-376-7000 for assistance 24/7.  If located in the City right-of-way or easement and stormwater related (only), contact the City of Snellville Public Works Department at 770-985-3524.
  • Q: What is a grease trap and when is one required?
    • A: A grease trap is a device which removes fats, oils, and grease ('FOG') that can damage the County’s sewer collection system by clogging pipes, pump stations and treatment plants. Food service establishments and facilities with commercial kitchens are required to install and maintain properly sized grease traps that collect FOG before it reaches the sewer system. Grease traps can prevent clogs which result in sewer back-up in homes and businesses or spills that contaminate creeks, streams and ponds.
  • Q: Am I allowed to install a fence within a drainage easement on my property?
    • A: Obstructions of any type including permanent structures are generally not permitted within drainage easements. 
  • Q: Am I allowed to add fill material to a drainage ditch on my property to redirect stormwater onto my neighbor's property?
    • A: Filling in a drainage ditch and associated easement is not allowed. Redirecting stormwater onto your neighbor's property is prohibited and subject to fines and penalties as may be levied by the Court.
  • Q: Am I allowed to regrade my property to change the flow of stormwater?
    • A: A land disturbance permit is required for grading. Redirecting stormwater onto neighboring property is not permitted. A Residential Drainage Plan prepared by a Registered Landscape Architect or professional engineer is required to ensure onsite management of stormwater will not adversely impact adjacent or downstream properties. 
  • Q: Am I allowed to pipe the creek on my property?
    • A: It is possible to secure the appropriate permits necessary to pipe the creek on your property. Please contact a professional engineer to guide you in the process, provide implementation costs, and secure the necessary permits from the Georgia Environmental Protection Division, City of Snellville, and U.S. Corps of Engineers.
  • Q: Am I allowed to construct a bridge across a creek to access my property?
    • A: Yes, construction of a bridge perpendicular to a stream is allowed. Please consult a professional engineer to help guide you through the permitting process with the City of Snellville.
  • Q: Am I allowed to remove a tree located in the stream buffer that appears to be in danger of falling?
    • A: A tree in the stream buffer can be removed only if it has significant impact to a residential or commercial structure. No permit is required unless removal includes the tree stump and roots. Use of motorized equipment within the buffer is strictly prohibited. Notify the Department of Planning and development at 770-985-3518 regarding the intent to remove any tree within a stream buffer.
  • Q. Am I allowed to clean up the creek on my property which is full of unsightly debris due to recent storms?
    • A: Debris and trash may be removed from a stream or creek by hand (only) and disposed of properly without a permit. The use of motorized equipment within any 50' or 100' stream buffer is strictly prohibited.
  • Q: Who is responsible for detention pond maintenance?
    • A: The property owner is responsible for maintenance of a detention pond. A homeowners association is typically responsible for maintaining the detention pond which serves a residential subdivision. Contact the City of Snellville Public Works Department at 770-985-3590 for additional information on maintenance responsibilities and stormwater detention pond maintenance standards.

Zoning and Land Use

  • Q: How can I determine the zoning for my property?
    • A: Contact the Planning and Development Department at 770-985-3518.
  • Q: What are the building setbacks for my property?
  • Q: Where can I get a survey of my property that shows the boundaries of my property?
    • A: Contact the Planning and Development Department (770-985-3513 or 3514) to see if your property is included in a Subdivision Final Plat, or if a House Location Plan or Residential Drainage Plan was provided by the builder at time of construction.
    • A: Or, contact the Deeds and Records Office of the Superior Court of Gwinnett at 770-822-8100 to determine if a property survey has been recorded with the County.  If a survey is not on file, it may be necessary to have a licensed professional surveyor prepare one for you.
  • Q: I am selling my rental property and my real estate agent said that I should market my property as 'Potential Commercial' since my property is adjacent to an existing commercial property.  How can I be assured that the property can be used for a commercial use?
    • A: A property owner or agent of the owner may apply to rezone the property.  Filing an application does not guarantee that a rezoning will be approved, especially if it is a speculative rezoning with no immediate plans to redevelop the property. 
  • Q: What is the difference between Future Land Use Plan and Zoning?
    • A: Future land use designations indicate the general category and allowable density or intensity for a particular area, while zoning district specifically define permitted uses and contain the design and development guidelines for the intended uses.
  • Q: How do I oppose or support a rezoning?
    • A: Citizens have an opportunity to present their comments during the 'public comments' portion of the public hearing at the Planning Commission meeting and again at the Mayor and Council public hearing. Concerned citizens can also contact the Planning Commission members and the Mayor and Council prior to the scheduled meetings to voice opposition/support or to let them know of any neighborhood meetings organized to discuss the rezoning.
  • Q: Which zoning districts allow a church?
    • A: A 'Place of Worship', defined as "a specially designed structure or consecrated space where individuals or a group of people such as a congregation come to perform acts of devotion, veneration, or religious study. Temples, churches, synagogues, and mosques are examples of structures created for worship" are allowed as a limited use in the CI (Civic-Institutional) District.
    • A: They are also allowed as a special use with special use permit approval by the Mayor and Council in many of the residential and commercial zoning districts. Please refer to UDO Sec. 206-4.1.H Use Standards and Sec.