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Decatur Planning Commission to consider mandatory inclusionary zoning on July 14

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Decatur Planning Commission to consider mandatory inclusionary zoning on July 14

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FILE PHOTO USED FOR ILLUSTRATION PURPOSES: Ashley Lytle seals roof shingles during the Decatur Martin Luther King Jr. Service Project weekend on Sunday, January 18, 2015. The annual service project is intended to help Decatur's seniors stay in their homes. File photo by Jonathan Phillips


This story has been updated. 

By Cathi Harris, contributor 

Decatur, GA — At a special called meeting set for Tuesday, July 14, the Decatur Planning Commission will consider changes to the city’s Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) that would require new residential developments to set aside a percentage of the units as affordable housing.

If the draft amendments are given final approval by the City Commission, new residential developments of at least five new housing units would be required to set aside 10 percent of the units for people making incomes equal to or lower than 80 percent of Area Median Income (AMI) for rental units, or less than or equal to 120 percent of AMI for owner-occupied condos or townhomes.

The meeting represents the first step in implementing mandatory inclusionary zoning in the city of Decatur.

In a memo to the Planning Commission in support of the changes, Decatur Planning and Economic Development Director Angela Threadgill and Senior Planner Ryan Sellers note that the city has had an incentive program to encourage affordable housing development for almost 20 years, but it has not produced the results city leaders hoped for.

The existing program provides a “density bonus” to developers—allowing them to build more units than a project’s zoning would normally permit—in return for a portion of the units being reserved as affordable housing.

“Only five completed projects have taken advantage of the program, resulting in very few lifecycle dwellings,” the memo states. “Three of the four projects with lifecycle ownership dwelling units were not in perpetuity but rather tied to mortgages. Therefore, they no longer exist as a result of resale or full payment of mortgages. The creation of lifecycle rental units have been unsuccessful as well, with just one project using the lifecycle density bonus resulting in 21 lifecycle rental units.”

Adoption of a mandatory inclusionary zoning ordinance was a recommendation of a 2017 Affordable Housing Policy Analysis commissioned by the city as well as a recommendation in the final report of the 2019 Decatur Affordable Housing Task Force

The complete text of the proposed amendments to the UDO can be found in the agenda packet for the upcoming Planning Commission meeting here.

All amendments to the UDO must go before the Planning Commission for consideration. The Planning Commission then forwards its recommendation, either for approval or denial, to the Decatur City Commission, which will consider the measure at its meeting on July 20.

Due to the continued state of emergency related to the coronavirus pandemic, the Planning Commission meeting will be held remotely. The public will be able to view a livestream video of the meeting via the city website. Members of the public who wish to participate in the meeting and submit public comments can register in advance at this link. After you register, you will receive an email confirmation with instructions about how to participate in the remote meeting.

Correction: An earlier version of this story contained an incorrect date for the meeting. This story has been updated with the correct information. 

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