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Frequently Asked Questions

Building Permits

How do I apply for a building permit?
Building permit applications are filed at city hall. The application form and checklist are available on the city website or at city hall. Allow 5 business days for review of the application and any associated plans. Take me to the building permits page.
What construction projects require a building permit?
Building permits are required for many different projects, including but not limited to:
New buildings
Building additions
Electrical upgrades
Garages, sheds, accessory buildings, swimming pools
Basement finishes
Water heater replacements
Commercial tenant finishes
Any structural additions and/or changes. Take me to the popular projects page.
Does my specific project require a building permit?
See the project list to determine whether some of the most popular projects require a permit. The list is not complete. It is best to contact city hall if you have any questions or concerns about whether your individual project requires a permit. Keep in mind, however, that approval by your homeowners association may still be required for any project that changes the exterior appearance of your property but does not require a city permit.
What happens if I build/expand/repair without a permit?
If you are found to be building without a permit, a stop work order will be issued until a permit has been obtained. The building permit fee is doubled for those instances where construction was begun without proper permits. In addition, you may be summoned to Municipal Court and face additional fines. In the event that you built a structure without a permit and that structure does not conform to the requirements of the zoning ordinance, you may be required to demolish all or part of the structure to bring the property into zoning compliance.
What hours are contractors permitted to work in the city?
Noise created by the normal operation of construction, street work, street repair, drilling or demolition tools or equipment is permitted Monday - Friday between the hours of 7:00 am and 9:00 pm, Saturday between the hours of 8:00 am and 7:00 pm, and Sunday between the hours of 10:00 am and 7:00 pm.
What are the rules for building a fence or wall in my yard?
In residential districts, fences and walls shall not exceed six feet in height within a side yard, rear yard or front yard. Barbed wire is not permitted in residential districts and chain-link fence is not permitted in a front yard. Fences and walls must be constructed of weather- and decay-resistant materials intended for permanent outdoor use. No permit is required for fences. However, an engineering design and permit is required for walls, including retaining walls, more than 4 feet tall.
What permits do I need for decks and additions?
A permit is needed for all new decks and additions. Contact city hall for applicable regulations.
What if I need an exception to the rules?
If the construction project you propose does not comply with the requirements of the zoning ordinance, you may be eligible for a variance if certain criteria are met. The variance application and checklist .are available on the city website as well as at city hall.
What is the variance hearing process?
Variance requests are heard and decided by the Planning & Zoning Commission at a public hearing. The commission has a regular meeting schedule, and public hearings are held within the course of a commission meeting. Before the commission can consider a variance request, certain public notice requirements must be met. At least 15 days before the public hearing, notice of the time and place of the hearing must be published in the Gwinnett Daily Post and a sign providing information about the request and hearing must be placed in a conspicuous location on the subject property. The sign must remain posted until after the variance hearing. In order for the commission to grant a variance, it must find that certain criteria as outlined in Section 78-366 of the zoning ordinance have been met. At the hearing any party having an interest in the variance being considered may appear in person or be represented by an authorized representative. Take me to the Variances page.
Where can I obtain a copy of a plot plan or survey of my property?
If it was recorded, you should be able to obtain a copy from the Gwinnett County Courthouse Records Room.
Do my sub-contractors need permits?
Any plumbing, electrical, or heating & air (HVAC) work that is performed as part of an open building permit does not require separate trade permits. However, the building inspector requires all sub-contractors performing work under an open building permit to complete a sub-contractor's affidavit.

A separate electrical, plumbing, or HVAC permit may be needed for individual plumbing, electrical or HVAC projects such as replacing a water heater, adding electrical outlets, or replacing a furnace or air conditioning unit. A homeowner is allowed to run electrical, HVAC and plumbing lines as the homeowner without a trade license as long as an owner's affidavit is submitted with the permit application. If the homeowner chooses to hire a sub-contractor to do the work, the sub-contractor must provide a copy of his valid business license and master trade license with the permit application.

Take me to Permit Applications.
What construction work am I able to complete on my own home?
A homeowner may complete any work on the residence they live in. Permits are still required and an owner's affidavit must be filed.
Where is my property line located?
Any work done in the city right-of-way requires a permit. If you are adding paved area on your property outside the right-of-way, a permit is not needed, but you are required to adhere to lot coverage requirements. For properties in residential zoning districts, impervious surfaces may not cover more than 30% of the area of the lot.
Do I need a permit to construct, repair or expand a driveway?
Any work done in the city right-of-way requires a permit. If you are adding paved area on your property outside the right-of-way, a permit is not needed, but you are required to adhere to lot coverage requirements. For properties in residential zoning districts, impervious surfaces may not cover more than 30% of the area of the lot. Take me to the building permits page.
Are dumpsters allowed in residential areas?
Yes. Dumpsters must be kept out of the street and right-of-way, and can not block the sidewalk. Dumpsters may be placed in driveways or yard areas. No permit is required unless there is no other alternative but to place it in the right of way.
Can the city enforce covenants in my subdivision?
No. Covenants are private agreements between the homeowners in your subdivision. The city does not have the authority to enforce these agreements. Likewise, even if your subdivision covenants allow your construction project, you still must obtain a building permit from the city, if required, before beginning work. You should always consult your homeowners association before undertaking any changes to the exterior appearance of you property if your covenants contain architectural standards.
Where can I get a copy of my covenants?
Check your closing records from when you purchased your home. If you cannot find them there, try your homeowners’ association. Also, if the covenants were recorded properly, you should be able to obtain copies from the Gwinnett County Courthouse Records Room.

Business Licenses

What do I need to do to obtain a license to operate a new business?
You must submit a completed Occupation Tax Certificate Application and U.S. Qualified Citizen Affidavit along with a nominal administrative fee to city hall. In addition, you may be required to submit a copy of the certificate of occupancy, fire marshal certificate of occupancy, and health department approval, if applicable. Staff will review the application and calculate the amount of occupation tax owed, which will be billed to you. Once the city receives your occupation tax, staff will send you your occupation tax certificate. Take me to the business licenses page.
What do I need to do to obtain a license to operate a home occupation?
You must submit a completed Home Occupation Tax Certificate Application and a U.S. Qualified Citizen Affidavit along with a nominal administrative fee to city hall. Once the application materials have been received, the ordinance enforcement officer will contact you to schedule a zoning compliance inspection. For applications in compliance with Sections 78-205 and 78-206 of the zoning ordinance, staff will issue a home occupation tax certificate.Take me to the business licenses page..
What is the deadline for filing for a NEW business license?
Within 30 days of commencement of business.
What is the deadline for filing for a business license renewal?
March 1st.
When does my business license expire?
All business licenses expire on December 31st.
How do I know if my business will owe an occupation tax?
If your business employed more than 2 full-time equivalent workers in the previous calendar year, you will owe an occupation tax. City staff will bill you for the exact amount upon receipt of your application.
When is my occupation tax due?
March 31st.
What businesses or commercial activities require special licenses?
In addition to an occupational tax certificate, the city also regulates and specially licenses alcoholic beverage sales, body art studios and artists, massage therapy businesses and door-to-door sales and soliciting, including charitable solicitors.

Committies

Why do we have citizen committees?
Berkeley Lake has many passionate, intelligent, experienced individuals who generously offer their time in community service. Through their work, we greatly expand the number of citizens in government, keep our government focus closer to community viewpoints, save money, and provide experience helpful for future candidates for office.
What is the function of committees?
The general purpose of committees is to research and advise. Research is accomplished many ways, which can include contacting other organizations (e.g. Gwinnett County, Gwinnett Municipal Association, Georgia Municipal Association., other cities), searching the library or web, holding public meetings or surveys, and simply thinking through alternatives. Advice is given to Council and can be via written reports and/or oral presentations.
How are committees formed?
Per City Charter (2.20.b): “All committees and committee chairs shall be appointed by the mayor and shall serve at the pleasure of the mayor. The mayor shall have the power to appoint new members to any committee at any time.” Any citizen can contact the Mayor to let her know of their interest and she will be glad to appoint them to a committee. The Mayor has solicited council members and homeowner association presidents to help her find interested citizens, so you may want to speak to one of them first if you would be more comfortable doing so.
Who decides how committees operate?
The committees do! Committees are free to organize and work as is most convenient and efficient. You can hold formal meetings under Robert's Rules of Order or informal brainstorming sessions. You can meet in City Hall, in your homes, or out for dinner. You can maintain detailed minutes and monthly status reports or you may provide only your recommendations to Council.
What are the requirements for record keeping, reporting, and open access?
There are very important requirements for public access and records of decision making by governmental bodies. All recommendations of committees to Council will be received and contemplated under these rules. The committees themselves are not subject to these requirements and may choose for themselves the most appropriate process to fulfill their advisory roles. If the committee wishes to make a written report, the mayor requests that it be emailed to her a week in advance of a council meeting so that she may post it on the city website. That way councilmembers have a chance to review it with more time and attention than they may have at a meeting, and all our citizens can have access to the information as well. The mayor also requests that committee chairs keep a record of dates the committee met and members who attended. If an individual committee member finds it difficult to attend meetings regularly, she may deem it necessary to appoint a replacement who has more time available. The mayor will contact committee chairs every 6 months to obtain an update if one has not been received already. Information obtained at that time will be reported to council.
How will the public provide input?
Of course, committees are themselves public input. Not all issues or all committees work on topics of wide public interest. Where there is significant interest, committees are encouraged to seek public comments via open meetings, surveys, town hall meetings, and our web site as appropriate. Committee chairs should contact the mayor for help in arranging such. Citizens should also be encouraged to pass their comments and questions along to committee members and/or invited to attend a committee meeting. Citizens may also comment on the record at Council meetings when committee reports are made or to Council Members anytime, including during the public discussion period preceding each Council meeting.
What is the role of the Council Liaison?
The Mayor has asked a Council Member to assist each committee as requested. They are a resource, and can be a valuable mentor, and serve as one conduit to Council. The council liaison is not on the committee, has no authority over the committee, does not vote, and attends committee meetings only when invited (specifically or an open meeting). Above all, these are citizen committees.
How often and where do committees meet?
In general committees are encouraged to meet as needed. Committees may meet where and when they choose. If they would like to utilize City Hall, it will be made available to them.
Can committees use City equipment?
Yes. Please feel free to utilize our photocopier and other equipment when needed for committee business during City Hall hours. Off-hours access can be made available via the committee liaison, any other Council Member, or the Mayor.
Can non-committee members help a committee?
Yes. Committees are encouraged to create sub-committees and otherwise enlist the aid of other citizens where possible. However, only the Mayor can appoint committee members or select the committee chair.
Can different committees work together?
Yes. There are many situations where an issue touches upon the function of more than one committee. Committee chairs should contact each other to coordinate. Joint reports are also acceptable when appropriate.
How are expenses approved?
Expenses (if any) must be approved in advance by the Mayor or City Administrator.
I have a question not answered by the above. Whom do I ask?
Committees are created by and operate under the authority of the Mayor. The Mayor can provide an authoritative answer to any questions.
Are there any exceptions to the answers above?
Yes.Some committees have additional responsibilities as defined by resolution or ordinance. In situations where authority has been delegated to a committee, record keeping and public access are required during such deliberations. The mayor is the authority (as advised by the city attorney) who decides what qualifies in this regard.
Anything else?
Yes - THANK YOU! Your service to the community is deeply appreciated. You have the full support and respect of your elected officials.

Council Meetings

What is an agenda?
An agenda is a printed list of issues the Council, Commission or Committee considers at a meeting.
What is a resolution?
A resolution is a method of expressing the opinion or policy of the city council about matters of administration. Resolutions are less formal that ordinances.
What is an ordinance?
An ordinance becomes the local law of the City of Berkeley Lake if adopted by the city council. If the ordinance deals with matters of a general and permanent nature, it is included in the Berkeley Lake City Code. If the ordinance deals with matters of a special nature, it is a non-coded ordinance.
What is a motion?
A motion is the verbal means of a council member taking action on an issue. A motion must be seconded, voted upon, and approved by a majority of a quorum.
What is a quorum and how does that relate to voting?
The City Charter states that the mayor and three council members shall constitute a quorum and shall be authorized to transact business of the city council. When the mayor pro tempore is presiding in the mayor's absence, the mayor pro tempore and three council members shall constitute a quorum and the mayor pro tempore shall have no vote. Voting on the adoption of ordinances shall be by voice vote and the vote shall be recorded in the journal, but any member shall have the right to request a roll call vote such vote shall be recorded in the journal. Except as otherwise provided in the charter, the affirmative vote of three council members shall be required for the adoption of any ordinance, resolution, or motion. The mayor shall only be able to vote in the event of a tie. The mayor shall have the power to veto any motion, resolution, ordinance, or other question adopted by the council, but such veto may be overridden by a vote of four-fifths of the entire council.

Coyotes

Why is this issue surfacing now?
From time to time, citizens have contacted staff and elected officials about coyote sightings.
Haven't we always had coyotes in the area? 
Coyotes are not indigenous to the State of Georgia. They are originally indigenous to the southwestern United States. However, over the past 50 years they have migrated all across the United States. They were first sighted in Georgia in the late 1970s and arrived in Atlanta in the early 1990s. Coyotes can adapt and thrive in almost any rural, suburban, and urban environment. They are renowned for their keen intelligence, ability to learn (as individuals and a group), sharp eyesight, and keen sense of smell. Superb stalkers, they can reach speeds of 40 mph in two or three steps. Since they have no natural enemies (other than wolves, mountain lions, and man), their numbers are increasing nationwide.
What do coyotes look like?
Coyotes are a medium-sized canine. The males range from 25 to 40 pounds. Females range from 22 to 35 pounds. Coyotes may vary from reddish brown to black, but the standard color is brownish-gray, with dark highlights on the shoulders and back, and a creamy underbelly. A bushy tail is held straight behind the body. An adult coyote is 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 feet long, from nose to tail.
What do coyotes eat?
Coyotes are not finicky eaters. They will eat whatever they catch, including but not limited to rabbits, mice and other rodents, grasshoppers, watermelon, deer (mostly fawns), dog food off your back porch, house cats, small dogs, squirrels, opossums, corn, chickens, raccoons, snakes, berries, birds, road kill, and household garbage.
Is there an explanation for the increase in recent encounters?
Coyotes are territorial animals. They mark a territory of about seven square miles (or an area that is naturally bounded) and defend it against other coyotes. They patrol this territory in search of food and can be found just about anywhere in that territory at any time, day or night. This explains why sightings can be random. Coyotes breed in January and February. The gestation period is about two months. One plausible explanation for the recent increase in sightings is that a coyote pair may have settled in nearby neighborhoods to birth and raise their litter. If this happens, they will establish the immediate vicinity as their primary hunting area to feed and rear their young (typically five to seven pups).
If we keep our pets inside at night, won't that solve the problem?
Coyotes are primarily nocturnal, but their definition of night is not dusk to dawn. They may start hunting several hours before darkness and/or continue hunting several hours after daylight. As a result, you can't assume that just because it is daylight, it is alright to let your pets out. Also, since they have no natural predators here, coyotes can rest or sleep just about anywhere (such as under a hedge), day or night. Coyotes have natural tendencies, but can also be completely unpredictable. The only safe course is to keep your pets indoors and on a leash when outside.
Are coyotes a threat to people?
Coyotes in the wild are reared to fear humans. Attacks on humans are rare. However, some coyotes in urban areas have lost their fear of humans, possibly because of living in such close proximity with people. It is best to use caution when dealing with coyotes. Additionally, when a person comes into contact with a coyote it is important to engage in an activity that promotes the coyotes fear of humans.
What can we do to remove coyotes from our area?
Wildlife experts and virtually all scientific studies agree that trapping is not an effective method for coyote management. Nearly all of the studies that have been done conclude that trapping only exacerbates the problem because the remaining members of the species competitively over-breed to fill the gap that trapping creates.Neither the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR) nor the Gwinnett County Animal Control has the resources to remove coyotes. They provide two different avenues for controlling the coyote population: trapping / hunting and prevention.

Trapping / Hunting

The Georgia DNR has a list of private trappers who are licensed and qualified to trap and remove animals based upon the requirements in State law.

Prevention

For information on preventing coyotes from frequenting your area, please view Coyote Prevention.

Dead Animal Removal

What do I do if the dead animal is on my property?
Property owners are responsible for removing dead animals, including wildlife, from their property. There are a number of pest control companies in the metro area that offer animal removal services, both for live nuisance animals and dead animals. Neither Gwinnett Animal Welfare nor the Department of Natural Resources will remove dead wildlife from private properties.
There's a dead animal on the road. How do I get it removed?
If the animal is on the roadside, you can call the police non-emergency number (770) 513-5700 or email to PDDeadAnimalRemoval@gwinnettcounty.com. They need very specific information, such as street and cross street (or street numbers), specific location of where the animal is on the side of the road, any landmarks and a phone number/name in case they need more details. This email address will be checked on regular pick up days - each Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Deceased animals are picked up from the curb of the roadway or right-of-way only. The Animal Control Officer is not permitted to go onto any private property to remove animals, even with the owner's permission and cannot go into wooded areas. This is due to the large truck used to pick up animals potentially damaging landscaping. If the animal is small enough, it can be placed into a plastic bag and left curbside to be removed. For more information about deceased animal removal, please visit the Animal Welfare Unit website. Gwinnett County Animal Welfare and Enforcement
What do I do if the dead animal is on my property?
Property owners are responsible for removing dead animals, including wildlife, from their property. There are a number of pest control companies in the metro area that offer animal removal services, both for live nuisance animals and dead animals. Neither Gwinnett Animal Welfare nor the Department of Natural Resources will remove dead wildlife from private properties.

Elections and Voting / Elecciones y votaciones

What are acceptable forms of identification for voting in person? / ¿Cuáles son las formas aceptables de identificación para votar en persona?
The Secretary of State has a brochure outlining acceptable forms of identification. El Secretaria de Estado tiene un folleto que describe formas aceptables de identificación
Where do I vote? / ¿Dónde puedo votar?
If you are voting in a Berkeley Lake city election, Berkeley Lake City Hall is the only polling location. If you are voting in a county, state or national election, your polling location will be somewhere other than city hall. For current polling locations, check the Secretary of State's "My Voter Page." - Si usted está votando en una elección de la ciudad de Berkeley Lake, Berkeley Lake City Hall es el único lugar de votación. Si está votando en una elección de el condado, estatal o nacional, su lugar de votación estará en algún lugar distinto de la alcaldía. Para los lugares de votación actuales, compruebe la "My Voter Page." del Secretario de Estado.
How do I request an absentee ballot? / ¿Cómo solicito una boleta de votante ausente?
Call city hall at 770-368-9484 X 102 and request that an application be mailed or faxed to you. Once you have completed the application, you can mail, fax or deliver it to city hall for processing. The Secretary of State's website also has the application available for download. - Llame a la alcaldía al 770-368-9484 X 102 y solicite que se le envíe por correo o por fax una solicitud. Una vez que haya completado la solicitud, puede enviarla por fax o puede entregarla a la alcaldía para su procesamiento. Puede descargar una aplicación aquí.
When can I request an absentee ballot? - ¿Cuándo puedo solicitar una boleta de votante ausente?
Application for an absentee ballot may not be made until 180 days prior to the election in which you desire to vote. Absentee ballots are available for mailing 22 days prior to an election. However, no absentee ballot can be mailed or issued the day prior to the election. - La solicitud para una boleta de ausencia no puede ser hecha hasta 180 días antes de la elección en la cual usted desea votar. Las papeletas de votación en ausencia están disponibles para enviar por correo 22 días antes de una elección. Sin embargo, ninguna boleta de ausencia puede ser enviada por correo o emitida el día antes de la elección.
Who is eligible to vote by absentee ballot? / ¿Quién puede votar por votación en ausencia?
Any registered voter who is eligible to vote in an election may vote by absentee ballot in person or by mail. - Cualquier votante registrado que es elegible para votar en una elección puede votar por votación en ausencia en persona o por correo.
Can I vote in person prior to Election Day? / ¿Puedo votar en persona antes del Día de las Elecciones?
Any registered voter who is eligible to vote in an election may vote in person during the early voting period. Early voters will be required to complete an absentee ballot application, supply acceptable identification, and vote at the early voting polling location. Early voting will not be available the day before the election. For city elections, early voting will take place at city hall. For county, state and national elections, Gwinnett County will determine the location of early polling locations. - Cualquier votante registrado que es elegible para votar en una elección puede votar en persona durante el período de votación temprana. Se requerirá que los votantes tempraneros completen una solicitud de boleta en ausencia, presenten identificación aceptable y voten en la sede de votación temprana. La votación anticipada no estará disponible el día antes de las elecciones. Para las elecciones municipales, la votación anticipada tendrá lugar en el ayuntamiento. Para las elecciones de condado, estado y nacionales, el Condado de Gwinnett determinará la ubicación de los lugares de votación anticipada.

Emergency Management

What should I do to be prepared in case of an emergency?
Everyone should prepare an “emergency response plan” for themselves for both home and office. This plan should include who you will contact out of the area should an emergency occur, family emergency numbers, school contacts, an emergency meeting place for the family, and local contacts. Other pertinent information specific to you might include medical information, such as chronic conditions, medications that you use regularly and physician/pharmacy phone numbers. Make sure you discuss your plans with your loved ones and co-workers and give them copies of your plan. Individuals should prepare an Emergency Response Plan for both the home and office.

You also want to be prepared to “shelter in place” for 3 days. (For example, a big snow storm.) To shelter comfortably, you will want to have the basics: 1 gallon of water per person per day, food and manual can opener, a week’s supply of prescription medication, battery powered radio with extra batteries, extra batteries for hearing aids or other assistive devices, flashlight with extra batteries, a list of contacts with family members, friends, doctors, and first aid supplies. If you have a hearing loss, you may also want to consider purchasing a close captioned battery operated TV should your power go out. Any items you normally use that you would need for 3 days should an emergency occur should also be included. If you have a pet, you will need 3 days supply of food and water for each pet. Should you have to evacuate, these supplies should go with you. More extensive lists and information can be found on websites dealing with preparedness, such as www.ready.gov

It is also a very good idea to have a “go bag” ready in case you have to evacuate either your home or work place. This small bag could include those personal items you would need if you had to leave without any notice as well as copies of financial records, pet’s veterinarian records, extra keys for house and car, cash, spare glasses or other special needs items, such as medications, batteries for assistive devices and copies of family documents.

For sheltering longer than 3 days, or if you have to evacuate, you may also want to include blankets and bedding, garbage bags, extra sets of clothes, pet carrier, litter, bags, water for pets, and personal hygiene items with the go bag items.

Why is planning so important?
It is everyone’s responsibility to be prepared for any emergency. Initially, emergency services will be consumed with responding to the disaster. It is up to each of us to prepare. Planning in advance will help you, your family and friends manage an emergency in a calm and effective way, which will help keep you safe.
I have a disability. If there is an emergency at work, what should I do to be prepared there?
Make sure you have a “go bag” at work, so if you have to shelter in place, or evacuate, you will have your necessary supplies. Make sure you have prepared in advance, your emergency response plan. Ask your supervisor for the company’s emergency plan and make sure you understand fully what their plans and policies are. You may also want to plan and practice an evacuation if the company does not routinely offer drills.If you have to evacuate and will need assistance, make sure you plan with a co-worker or two in advance so they can provide assistance.
I use a wheelchair and live alone. What should I do to be prepared in case of emergency?
You should be prepared to shelter in place for 3 days using the above supplies as a guide. Visit the web sites mentioned previously for additional information regarding supplies. In addition, you should make sure you have an emergency response plan that you have prepared in advance with a friend, neighbor, or family member who can provide assistance to you, in the event of an emergency where you are unable to manage alone.
What does Shelter in Place mean?
Shelter in place is a protective action designed to use an indoor facility and its indoor atmosphere to shield people from a hazardous outdoor environment. This is a short term measure, measured in hours and not days, which will protect the occupant until the hazard passes. If an accident, such as a chemical spill, or an attack creates a dangerous contaminated environment outdoors (such as a radiological release), everyone should be brought inside and the doors and windows closed. The heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems (HVAC) should be shut down to create a neutral air pressure environment, which will help prevent the contaminated air from entering the facility.
Why Shelter in Place?
Sheltering in place is a rapid and effective means of protecting the building occupants from an external threat. To evacuate the facility could expose employees to a greater danger in the external environment.
Does Shelter in Place Work?
Of the 35 major chemical accidents in the US over the last 20 years, there has not been a single fatality among individuals who have sheltered in place. (National Institute for Chemical Studies, June 2001).
What can community members do to help evacuate themselves and others?
Maintain your sense of community. Use your vehicle to provide transportation to others. Do not add to traffic gridlock. If you are not in an area affected by the evacuation, stay where you are, shelter-in-place. Listen to the media for updates as circumstances change.

Lake Berkeley Dam

What entities are responsible for Lake Berkeley and associated properties?
The City of Berkeley Lake is responsible for the earthen dam, and the parking lot adjacent to the dam.

The Berkeley Lake Homeowners' Association owns and is responsible for the lake, picnic area, gabion spillway, and beach.

The City of Berkeley Lake rents the parking lot adjacent to the dam to the Berkeley Lake Homeowners' Association. The BLHA is responsible for maintenance of the parking lot adjacent to the dam as tenant.

The Berkeley Lake Homeowners' Association is responsible for removal of sediment from the lake.

What is the Georgia Safe Dams Program?
Georgia Safe Dams Program is part of the Environmental Protection Division under the Department of Natural Resources.
For what is Georgia Safe Dams Program responsible?
Georgia Safe Dams Program responsibilities include:

Inventorying all existing and proposed dams over 25 feet tall or with a 100 acre-feet of storage at the top of the dam.

Re-inventorying existing low hazard (Category II) dams at least every five years.

Classifying dams based on development within the dam failure flood zone downstream.

Approval of plans and specifications for construction and repair of all high hazard (Category I) dams.

Continuously monitoring Category I dams for safety.

How often does the Georgia Safe Dams Program inspect the Lake Berkeley dam?
Annually. City employees inspect the dam quarterly.
What role does the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (COE) have related to the Lake Berkeley dam?
The COE administers the Clean Water Act (the primary federal law in the US governing water pollution) and has jurisdiction over impacts to wetlands and waters of the US.
When was the Lake Berkeley dam built?
The dam was built between 1948 and 1950, renovated in the early 1980s and reconstructed in 2012.
What are the responsibilities of the City of Berkeley Lake for maintaining the dam?
As the owner and operator of the Lake Berkeley dam, the city is responsible for mowing, maintenance, and repair activities, including the prevention of trespassing on the dam.
What is the elevation of the crest of Lake Berkeley dam?
The crest of the Lake Berkeley dam is 979.5 feet.
What does it mean that Lake Berkeley dam is classified as a Category I dam?
It means that there will be probable loss of life in the breach zone should the dam fail catastrophically.
What are the primary design specifications for a Category I dam?
The design principle for an earth-fill dam embankment is to determine that cross section which, when constructed with available materials, will fulfill its required function with adequate safety at a minimum cost. To accomplish this, the following criteria must be met:

The embankment must be safe against overtopping of the inflow design flood by the provision of sufficient spillway and outlet works capacity.
The slopes of the embankment must be stable during construction and under all conditions of reservoir operation, including rapid drawdown of the reservoir.
The embankment must be designed so as not to impose excessive stresses upon the foundation.
Seepage flow through the embankment, foundation, and abutments must be controlled so that no internal erosion takes place and so there is no sloughing in the area where the seepage emerges. The amount of water lost through seepage must be controlled so that it does not interfere with planned project functions.
The embankment must be safe from overtopping by wave action.
The upstream slope must be protected against erosion by wave action, and the crest and downstream slope must be protected against erosion by rain and wind.

An embankment designed to meet the above criteria will prove safe provided proper construction methods and control are achieved.

What is a Hydrological and Hydrology (H&H) study?
An assessment of how much water will flow into the lake in an extreme rain event and how the lakes hydraulic structures will behave under said rainfall.
I've heard of the gabion spillway. What is a gabion?
In their simplest form, gabions are essentially rock-filled wire baskets or cages. Gabions are useful for a number of applications. Similar to a retaining wall, they can be used for slope stabilization; can protect culverts, streambanks, and other channels against high-velocity moving water; and can even be formed into a variety of aesthetically pleasing structures. Gabion mattresses, with a small height relative to their lateral dimensions, may be used to line channel bottoms, for levee revetment, and for scour protection. Vertical diaphragms are often affixed to the base of gabion baskets to provide additional reinforcement and to limit internal movement of the rock filling.
What is the size and volume of Lake Berkeley?
Berkeley Lake is approximately 88 acres and contains about 2025 acre feet of water at full pool of 974.4 feet above sea level.

Municipal Court

Where is the Berkeley Lake municipal court located?
Municipal court is held in the city hall auditorium to the right of the main entrance at 4040 S Berkeley Lake Rd, Berkeley Lake, GA 30096
What is the court's operating hours?
Municipal court is in-session the 2nd Wednesday of March, June, September and December at 4:00PM if needed and at other times as needed. Defendants are notified of their court date and time along with their citation.
What is the maximum fine and sentence in Municipal Court?
The municipal court may fix punishment for offenses within its jurisdiction not exceeding a fine of $1,000.00 or imprisonment for 60 days or both such fine and imprisonment or may fix punishment by fine, imprisonment, or alternative sentencing as provided by law. Each day a violation occurs shall be considered a separate and distinct violation.
What types of payments does the court accept?
Currently the court will accept cash, money order, and a personal check if you are a Gwinnett County resident and your bank is located in Gwinnett County. You must show a valid drivers license when writing a personal check and the court reserves the right to refuse any personal check for any reason.
Does the court accept credit card or debit card payments?
Not at this time.
Where do I find a copy of the municipal ordinances of the City of Berkeley Lake?

New Citizen Information

How can I get more information on trash pickup and recycling?
The city's exclusive waste hauling provider, Advanced Disposal, includes trash pickup, yard waste pickup and recycling services all in one price. Advanced Disposal contact information
Where are the parks?
The city park is located at and around City Hall at 4040 South Berkeley Lake Rd. There is a children's playground, walking circuit, landscaping, benches and seat walls.  View more information on parks
Are any animals banned in the city?
The answer to that question is best found by reading the city Code of Ordinances, Chapter 10, Animals. View Chapter 10.
Where can I find local school information?
That information is available on the Gwinnett County Public Schools website.
Do I have to license my pets?
Section 10-1 of the City Code of Ordinances requires that citizens meet the county's licensing requirements for dogs. According to its website, the county doesn't license dogs but does require a current rabies tag.
What are the local emergency contacts?
In case of emergency, dial 911.
Am I allowed to burn within the city limits?
Outdoor burning is under the jurisdiction of the Gwinnett County Fire Department. Please refer to the department's website for more information on burning restrictions and permits. Gwinnett County Fire Department

Ordinance Enforcement

How do I file a ordinance enforcement complaint?
A complaint can be filed by contacting the City Marshal at (770) 368 9484 Ext. 103, or by emailing oeo@berkeleylake.com. Complaints involving domestic animals, such as dog barking or running at large, should be reported to Gwinnett County Animal Control by calling (770) 339 3200 (Monday – Friday, 8:30am – 4:00pm).
If I receive a notice of violation and I have subsequently corrected the violation what do I do?
Contact the City Marshal at (770) 368 9484 Ext. 103, or by emailing oeo@berkeleylake.com to advise of the status.
How tall can grass grow on a lot before a code violation occurs?
Premises and exterior property shall be maintained free from grass, weeds or uncultivated vegetation in excess of 12 inches in height. Exceptions: Property one acre or greater in size.
When can trash be placed at the curb for collection?
Garbage, rubbish and recyclables shall not be placed on the right-of-way more than 24 hours in advance of pickup, and all empty containers shall be removed from the street within 24 hours after pickup
Are residents required to store trash containers inside?
No, but trash containers can not be stored at the curb. Trash containers should be moved from the curb after collection and placed beside the home or in a non-visible location.
What constitutes a junk vehicle?
Junk vehicle means any vehicle, automobile, truck, van, trailer of any kind or type, or contrivance or part thereof, which is wrecked, dismantled, partially dismantled, stripped, partially stripped, inoperative, abandoned or discarded.
Where can inoperable vehicles be stored?
Junk vehicles must be stored inside a closed building except for items listed in City Code Chapter 14.View City Code Chapter 14
Who enforces abandoned vehicles that are parked on the street?
A complaint can be filed by contacting the City Marshal at (770) 368 9484 Ext. 103, or by emailing oeo@berkeleylake.com.
Where can I place my garage or yard sale signs?
The City of Berkeley Lake does not regulate signs based on the content of their message, but by time place and manner. Signs advertising private sales or events are treated as any other. Residential properties are allowed an aggregate total of 16 square feet of signage at any given time with no individual sign larger than 6 square feet. If a sign is located off-site, the owner of the of the property where it is located must give permission for its placement on private property. No signs shall be located within ten feet of the pavement of any street and shall not be permitted on any public right-of-way or attached to utility poles or traffic signs. Signs on residential properties do not require sign permits. See Temporary Sign Guidelines
Does the City enforce subdivision covenants?
No. Subdivision covenants are private land use restrictions that must be enforced through the homeowner's association or by individual home owners.
Where can I display my vehicle for sale?
You may display a vehicle you own in your own driveway or upon your property. You may not park the vehicle on public property, including the right-of-way or property you do not own and offer it for sale without permission from the property owner.
Are dumpsters allowed in residential areas?
Yes. Dumpsters must be kept out of the street and right-of-way, and can not block the sidewalk. Dumpsters may be placed in driveways or yard areas. No permit is required unless there is no other alternative but to place it in the right of way.
Am I permitted to burn within the city limits?
Outdoor burning is under the jurisdiction of the Gwinnett County Fire Department. Please refer to the department's website for more information on burning restrictions and permits. Gwinnett County Fire Department

Planning and Development

What is zoning?
Zoning is the establishment and enforcement of regulations governing use, placement, spacing, and lot size requirements in separate districts. In other words, zoning is a tool to guide growth through the creation of categories that allow and regulate land uses.
How do I determine what uses are allowed in a particular zoning district?
Consult the city's zoning ordinance. It outlines all the permitted uses and certain regulations that govern those uses. For more information, contact city hall.
How can I find out the zoning on my property?
You can refer to the city-wide zoning map or contact city hall. When calling city hall be sure to have the address and, if possible, the tax identification number.
How do I apply for a building permit?
Building permit applications are filed at city hall. Application forms are available on the city website or at city hall. Most permit applications require a 3-5 day review.
Do I need a permit to have a garage sale, and how often can I have one?
A permit is not required. A garage sale may be held up to twice per year. Each sale may last up to two days.
Where can I place my garage or yard sale signs?
The City of Berkeley Lake does not regulate signs based on the content of their message, but by time place and manner. Signs advertising private sales or events are treated as any other. Residential properties are allowed an aggregate total of 16 square feet of signage at any given time with no individual sign larger than 6 square feet. If a sign is located off-site, the owner of the of the property where it is located must give permission for its placement on private property. No signs shall be located within ten feet of the pavement of any street and shall not be permitted on any public right-of-way or attached to utility poles or traffic signs. Signs on residential properties do not require sign permits. See Temporary Sign Guidelines
Where and when can I place a sign to sell my home?
The City of Berkeley Lake does not regulate signs based on the content of their message, but by time place and manner. Signs advertising a home for sale are treated as any other. Residential properties are allowed an aggregate total of 16 square feet of signage at any given time with no individual sign larger than 6 square feet. If a sign is located off-site, the owner of the of the property where it is located must give permission for its placement on private property. No signs shall be located within ten feet of the pavement of any street and shall not be permitted on any public right-of-way or attached to utility poles or traffic signs. Signs on residential properties do not require sign permits. See Temporary Sign Guidelines
May I conduct a business out of my home? Are there any restrictions?
A limited number of occupations are allowed in residential areas. For information about whether the business you are interested in conducting is permitted, contact city hall at (770) 368-9484. For the regulations governing home occupations you may review the zoning ordinance. In addition, home occupations are subject to business licensing requirements. Business Licensing
Are there any regulations regarding displaying signs on my property?
A sign permit is required for most temporary and permanent signs. Sign regulations vary according to each zoning district, so please contact city hall at (770) 368-9484 to determine the size and type of signs allowed on your property. Signs located in the City right-of-way are not permitted and will be removed. See Temporary Sign Guidelines
When does the Planning and Zoning Commission meet? Where can I find an agenda?
The Planning and Zoning Commission typically meets at 7:30 pm on the second Tuesday of every month. Agendas are posted at city hall and on the city website no later than the Friday prior to each meeting. Agendas
Why is there a public notice sign posted in my neighborhood?
The sign is general notice to the public that a public hearing has been scheduled regarding the use or development of the property upon which the sign is placed. You may contact city hall at (770) 368-9484 to find out details about the specific request.

Property Taxes

What is a millage rate?
For City taxes, the tax rate, or millage rate, is set annually by the Council of the City of Berkeley Lake. A tax rate of one mill represents a tax liability of one dollar per $1,000 of assessed value. The governing authority estimates their total revenue from other sources. This figure is subtracted from their overall budgetary needs, and then a millage rate is set that will generate the necessary revenues to fulfill budgetary requirements.
What is the current millage rate?
Follow the link to the right to the Property Taxes page. Property Taxes page.
How is the millage rate calculated?
The millage rate equation is just simple math.

In order for council to arrive at the appropriate millage rate they must know the following:

(A) A dollar figure answer to the question, "how much money do we need to balance the budget?"
(B) A dollar figure answer to 'how much is all of the property in the City of Berkeley Lake worth(fair market value), multiplied by 40% (assessed value)?"

(C) is the millage rate. Divide (A) by (B) to arrive at (C).

What is the difference between fair market value and assessed value?
Assessed value is defined as being 40% of the fair market value. Property in Georgia is taxed on the assessed value.
What does 'ad valorem tax' mean?
The phrase 'ad valorem' is Latin for 'according to value'. An ad valorem tax is a tax based on the assessed value of real estate or personal property. Ad valorem taxes can be property tax or even duty on imported items. Property ad valorem taxes are the major source of revenue for the City of Berkeley Lake.
What is a 'tax digest'?
A tax digest or tax roll is the official list of each taxpayer subject to property taxes together with the assessment and the amount of taxes due.
Who decides how much my property is worth for taxation purposes?
The Gwinnett County Board of Assessors and their staff have the responsibility of determining the value of property in Gwinnett County. Gwinnett County Tax Assessor's Office
What property is taxed?
All real estate and personal property are taxable unless law has exempted the property (O.C.G.A. 48-5-3). “Real Property” is land and generally anything that is erected, growing or affixed to the land; personal property is everything that can be owned that is not real estate. “Personal property” typically consists of inventory and fixtures used in conducting a business, such as boats, aircraft, farm machinery, motor vehicles and mobile homes. The contents of your household are not normally taxable unless they are used for a home-based business.
How is my tax bill calculated?
To calculate a tax bill, you must multiply the net assessed value by the millage rate.
How much do I owe?
The City of Berkeley Lake has an intergovernmental agreement with the Gwinnett County Tax Commissioner to bill city taxes on your county tax bill. You may view your property tax balance by visiting the Gwinnett County Tax Commissioner's website or calling (770) 822 8800. Gwinnett County Tax Commissioner
What is a 'tax rollback rate'?
The tax rollback rate is the tax rate that would bring about the same amount of dollars from the previous year.
What is a 'tax levy'?
In property taxes, it's the total revenue that is to be generated by the tax. In other words, when the assessed value of all of the properties on the tax digest (roll) is added up and that resulting number is multiplied by the millage rate, the resulting number is the tax levy.

Septic Systems Inspection and Maintenance Program

My home is connected to the Gwinnett County Sanitary Sewer; does this program apply to me?
No. The Berkeley Lake Required Septic Inspection and Servicing requirements apply only to those homeowners who use a private septic system located on their property.
What are the Berkeley Lake Septic Inspection and Servicing requirements?
The City of Berkeley Lake requires that privately-owned septic systems be regularly inspected and pumped by a licensed contractor registered with the Gwinnett County Health Department. That servicing must include both inspection of the septic system components and pumping of the septic system’s tanks. The maximum service interval for required Septic System service shall not exceed five years from the date of the last certified inspection and service that was properly reported to they city. The homeowner is responsible for notifying Berkeley Lake City Hall via completing and submitting forms provided by the City that the required service has been performed. Checklist and forms.
Five years is a really long time; what if I forget?
Don't worry about forgetting. The city maintains a database of all of the septic systems located within the city limits and will remind owners when required inspection and service is due.

Approximately 90 days before septic servicing is due the owner will receive a letter advising of the upcoming deadline for service. That letter will include the needed forms.

Approximately 30 days before septic servicing is due the owner will receive a second notice advising more urgently of the rapidly upcoming deadline for service. The Septic Tank Inspection Form and the Statement of Inspection and Service form will be Included with that notice. Checklist and forms.

I received a notice that my septic system is due for inspection; what do I do?
1) Before the service deadline date, arrange for a licensed contractor registered with the Gwinnett County Health Department to inspect and pump out your septic system. Be sure that you call the contractor far enough in advance of the due date so that the work can be performed and you can get the forms to city hall on or before the due date.
2) Have your forms ready when the contractor arrives and after the work is performed, Have the contractor complete and sign the Septic Tank Inspection Form before leaving. While it's not impossible to get the form signed after the contractor leaves, being prepared and having that done while the contractor is on-site will be much more convenient for you. Be sure to get a receipt from the contractor. You are going to need that.
3) The owner of the septic system should complete the Statement of Inspection and Service form.
4) Return the completed Septic Tank Inspection Form, Statement of Inspection and Service form and a copy of your receipt from the septic tank service company to city hall within 10 days of the inspection and service or the due date, whichever is earlier. Checklist and forms.
Is it possible that my septic system may need inspection and service before the five-year required interval?
Yes. Depending upon variables such as the size of the tank(s), the amount of solids going into it, you may need to have your septic system serviced more frequently than the required five-year interval. Septic System Maintenance Resource
My septic system was inspected/serviced but I did not send in the forms. What should I do?
The city requires the following after a septic tank is inspected and serviced.
1) Septic Tank Inspection Form completed and signed by the Septic System Licensed Contractor
2) Statement of Inspection and Service completed and signed by the homeowner
3) A copy of your receipt from the septic tank service company.
The forms can be found on the website or picked up at city hall.
Ours is a weekend home; does the five-year interval apply to us?
Yes. The five-year required inspection and service interval does apply to you. However, the city recognizes that there are variables and circumstances which may prevent the need for inspection and maintenance at that frequency; therefore, extensions are available if certain criteria are met. Septic system owners who believe they should be eligible for a compliance deadline extension should complete the appropriate extension application and submit it to city hall at least 30 days before the compliance deadline. Extension Request Form

Tree Removal

Do I need a tree removal permit to remove a dead, dying, diseased or fallen tree?
No. Trees that have fallen or been uprooted due to natural causes may be removed without a permit. In addition, if an ISA Certified Arborist or Registered Consulting Arborist determines that a standing tree should be removed because it is dead, dying, diseased or dangerous to persons or property, no permit is required for removal as long as a written report is retained by the property owner.
Is a tree removal permit required prior to removing trees in emergency situations?
No. Trees that have fallen on structures or obstructing access should be removed immediately. If there is a tree that is found by an ISA Certified Arborist or Registered Consulting Arborist to be endangering people or property, the tree may also removed without a permit. The arborist's written report must be kept by the homeowner and provided to staff upon request.
What other situations do not require a tree removal permit?
Owners of lots 5 acres and less are allowed to remove two otherwise healthy trees per calendar year without a permit as long as the trees do not qualify as "specimen" trees and all other requirements of the ordinance are met. Other requirements include maintaining the minimum tree density and buffers. There is no limit on lots larger that 5 acres provided all other requirements are met.

There are also exemptions for removing invasive species, overgrown screening varieties and non-native ornamental or edible fruit trees; and for trees that are located within 10 feet of structure such as a house, retaining wall or driveway where they are a problem. Please refer to the Tree Removal page for a more complete explanation of permit exemptions..

Do I need a tree removal permit for tree removal associated with construction activity?
Yes. Even if you have a building permit or a land disturbance permit for work you are doing to your lot, you still need to obtain a tree removal permit so that the city can verify that you are meeting the required tree density standard.
What if my lot does not meet the minimum tree density standard?
Whatever tree density currently exists on the lot must be maintained. While you will not be required to plant trees to meet the minimum density requirement, no tree can be removed without replanting enough new trees to maintain the existing tree density on the lot or by paying a fee per tree density unit lost.
Is there a fee for a tree removal permit?
Yes. The application fee for a Tree Removal Permit is $50.00.
Do I have to replace a tree with one just like it?
No. You must replace "tree density units", not "trees." Although the replacement of removed specimen trees with similar species of the largest feasible size is encouraged, any species from the approved list can be used for replacement. The total of replacement TDUs must be equal or greater than the total TDUs removed.
If I need to plant replacement trees to comply with the ordinance, are there rules about what kinds of trees I can plant?
Yes. The city has an approved tree list from which replacement trees should be selected.
Does a tree removal permit expire?
Yes. Tree removal permits are valid for 90 days. If trees have not been removed within 90 days of permit issuance, a new tree removal permit is required before trees may be removed.

Variances

What if I need an exception to the rules?
If the construction project you propose does not comply with the requirements of the zoning ordinance, you may be eligible for a variance if certain criteria are met. The variance application and checklist are available on the city website as well as at city hall. Take me to Variances.
What is the variance hearing process?
Variance requests are heard and decided by the Planning & Zoning Commission at a public hearing. The commission has a regular meeting schedule, and public hearings are held within the course of a commission meeting. Before the commission can consider a variance request, certain public notice requirements must be met. At least 15 days before the public hearing, notice of the time and place of the hearing must be published in the Gwinnett Daily Post and a sign providing information about the request and hearing must be placed in a conspicuous location on the subject property. The sign must remain posted until after the variance hearing. In order for the commission to grant a variance, the commission must find that certain criteria as outlined in Section 78-366 of the zoning ordinance have been met. At the hearing any party having an interest in the variance being considered may appear in person or be represented by an authorized representative. Take me to Variances.