What authority does a city or county have in enforcing its zoning, building, and other ordinances with respect to temporary and permanent building on school property?
The question of how different governmental entities operating within one jurisdiction with respect to zoning and all other ordinances became settled law, or stare decisis, with the rulings for two court cases.
Macon-Bibb County Planning & Zoning vs. Bibb County School District – This case set the precedent that governmental entities – in this case a school district – can use their property for their governmental purposes. They are exempt from the rules of zoning so long as the property is used for their governmental purposes.
City of Decatur vs. DeKalb County – This case set the precedent that zoning powers and “supplementary powers” are two separate powers that can accrue to both cities and counties. While a governmental entity operates within the jurisdiction of another governmental entity, they are exempt from zoning but they are not exempt from the supplementary powers. Supplementary powers are those powers that a city or county can use to regulate building and maintenance on a property. This case set the precedent that governmental entities must follow all ordinances of the local jurisdiction outside of zoning.
Does OCGA exempt the school district from any other building regulations, codes and ordinances? Jennifer Hackemeyer was the General Counsel for the Georgia Department of Education for 10 years. She is currently the Chief Legal Officer for DeKalb Schools and helps us dig into this.
Chief Legal Officer, DeKalb County School District
In addition, Georgia’s education code requires that the GDOE common minimum facility requirements for each public schools that must include: those provisions of law or state board policy on matters that related to “fire and physical safety; sanitation and health, including temperature and ventilation; minimum space, size and configuration for the various components of the instructional program; and construction stability, quality and suitability for intended uses.” See O.C.G.A. §20-2-261(a).
Additionally, GDOE guidelines provide that temporary educational facilities must meet all applicable state and local building codes and must have a separate certificate of occupancy for each building.
The District is required to obtain building, electrical, and plumbing (if applicable) permits. Inspections are completed by the local authorities and the Fire Marshal’s Office, prior to obtaining a certificate of occupancy from the local municipality.