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Database Design and Conversion - Cobb County, Georgia


Database Design and Conversion - Cobb County, GeorgiaBeing able to quickly access accurate zoning data is critical to land use planning and development. GIS (geographic information systems) provides a streamlined solution for local government. Cobb County, Georgia, serves as a good example.

Cobb County is a major metropolitan area and growing suburb of Atlanta with a population of 660,000. The County is responsible for regulating zoning for all unincorporated areas of the County, including more than 300 square miles.

Historically, the County was using hand-drawn mylar maps to record zoning information. However, the hand-drawn maps did not closely align with digital parcel data, compromising the data’s integrity. Further, the data was not easily accessible to Cobb County’s Community Development Agency, Zoning Division, Planning Commission, Board of Commissioners, private developers and the public.

Cobb County decided to turn to GIS to provide a solution. In 2007 Cobb County began working with R.A.Smith National to develop a zoning geodatabase and digitize 46, 1” = 500’ scale, hard-copy zoning maps.

Tim Scharff, GIS Manager, Cobb County, is pleased with the project’s results. “The zoning geodatabase developed by R.A. Smith National helped us to achieve our goals of converting our zoning data to GIS format, making the data accessible to those who need it and linking our zoning data to other Cobb County applications as part of our enterprise GIS.”

Cobb County’s enterprise GIS is based on the ESRI platform. The zoning layers are used by the public through an ArcIMS-based interactive mapping Web site and by County staff through an intranet ArcIMS application and ArcGIS Desktop.  The zoning layers are stored in a geodatabase using ArcSDE technology.

The ability to provide a complete history of all zoning requests is a unique aspect of Cobb County’s geodatabase design. The County desired the ability to track the life cycle of a request from the original petition to its approval, as well as how the property was previously zoned.

Database fields include the applicant’s name, date of request, type of zoning, approval or denial status, reasons for a denial and stipulations associated with an approval. Requests are also linked to additional information such as Planning Commission and Board of Commissioners meeting minutes (and videos of the meeting), zoning analysis documents and site plans. The County is now able to include zoning as one of several GIS layers on its ArcIMS-based mapping Web site.

County staff in the Stormwater Division and Department of Transportation have also benefitted. These staff previously spent time independently tracking zoning petitions, since the information was not readily available from Community Development. Similarly, private developers and the public had to visit Cobb County’s offices to obtain basic zoning information. Today, Cobb County’s Web site provides a wealth of zoning information for anyone with Internet access.

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