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Decatur City Commission will discuss future of West Howard avenue, face-mask ordinance

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Decatur City Commission will discuss future of West Howard avenue, face-mask ordinance

West Howard Avenue planters. Photo by Dean Hesse.

This story has been updated.

Decatur, GA — The Decatur City Commission will hold its regular meeting on Feb. 22 and will discuss the future of West Howard Avenue, a future that does not include the infamous planters the city placed along the road as a traffic-calming measure.

The city’s meeting begins with a work session at 6 p.m. followed by the regular meeting at 7:30 p.m. It will be held in-person and virtually. Here are the attendance instructions:

This meeting will be held in-person. Members of the public wishing to participate during either the “Public Comment” or “Requests and Petitions” portions of the meeting may attend the meeting in one of two ways:

1. Attend in-person by coming to Decatur City Hall, 509 N. McDonough St. A temperature check and wearing of a face covering are required for entry into the building.

2. Register in advance at https://zoom.us/j/93326238372. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting. You may also participate by phone by calling (929) 205-6099 and entering the meeting ID (The 11-digit number shown in the Zoom registration link.)

NOTE – This meeting will utilize virtual meeting technology. We cannot guarantee it will operate as planned. If your participation must be a matter of public record, attend the meeting in person or email your comments to City Manager Andrea Arnold at [email protected] by 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, February 22nd.

Members of the public may also view the live broadcast of the Decatur City Commission meeting at https://www.decaturga.com/citycommission/page/streaming-video

To see the city commission’s full agenda, click here.

During an open house on Dec. 9, the city of Decatur’s project consultant presented several options for a permanent replacement for the multicolored boxes that have lined the one-mile stretch between the East Lake MARTA station to Commerce Drive. The public also had a chance to see and comment on what is likely the final plan for the railroad crossing improvements at Atlanta Avenue. Both items are the focus of the city commission’s Feb. 22 work session.

Options for replacing the planters include:

– Replacing the current planters with terracotta planters

– Creating a “buffered bikeway” on both sides of West Howard

– Replacing the planters with a cycle track

The city commission also will consider extending the city’s face-mask ordinance.

The city adopted its mask ordinance in June 2020 to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. The city let it briefly expire before adopting a new one in August 2021. It will expire today unless the city commission extends it. City Manager Andrea Arnold is recommending the city extend the current ordinance until March 21.

“According to the Georgia Department of Public Health Distribution Dashboard, as of February 15, 2022, 55% of Georgians and 57% of DeKalb County residents are fully vaccinated,” Arnold wrote in a memo to the commission. “These rates lag behind the national average of 68.6% of the U.S. population over the age of 4 being fully vaccinated, according to the CDC’s Vaccine Data Tracker. Furthermore, hospitals continue to deal with the impacts of COVID-19 on their operations, with the large majority of Covid-19 patients being unvaccinated, resulting in emergency departments reporting being overcrowded and ICU bed space remaining low.”

“The positive news is that the number of new cases in the county continues to decline, although a decrease in deaths has not been realized yet,” she added. “Currently, the CDC continues to recommend face coverings, including use by people who are fully vaccinated, to protect the public from COVID-19.”

In other business, the city commission will consider:

– Approval of a special exception to the city’s parking standards in the Downtown Special Pedestrian Area for the property at 104 and 108 Church Street. The exceptions will allow for the construction of a film editing studio at that location. The Planning Commission has recommended approval.

– Setting a project budget of $40,000 and award of a contract to Autaco Development, LLC in the amount of $28,800 for removal and replacement of stormwater drainage pipe and backfilling of an associated sinkhole at the intersection of Sycamore Drive and Hillcrest Avenue.

– Authorizing the City Manager to execute a planning services agreement with Perez Planning + Design in the amount of $293,575 for a parks and recreation master plan.

– Setting a project budget in the amount of $12,000 and award of a contract in the amount of $11,537 to Solutionz, Inc. for conference room technology upgrades.

– Approving an agreement with Atkins North America in the amount of $80,000 for the design of intersection improvements at East Lake Road and Parkwood Road.

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