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Decatur City Commission approves conditional use permit for affordable housing at Legacy Park

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Decatur City Commission approves conditional use permit for affordable housing at Legacy Park

Legacy Park on S. Columbia Drive in the city of Decatur on August 12, 2020. The park occupies the former site of the United Methodist Children’s Home. Photo by Dean Hesse.

Decatur, GA — The South Housing Village at Legacy Park is one step closer to coming to fruition. The Decatur City Commission, at its Aug. 15 meeting, approved a conditional use permit for multifamily dwelling use in an I-Institutional zoning district at Legacy Park for the affordable housing project.

The property is located at 700-722 S. Columbia Drive in Decatur. The project, now known as The Village at Legacy, will be 132 units of affordable housing. The site will feature a mix of apartments, stacked flats, and duplexes at the corner of South Columbia Drive and Katie Kerr Drive. The site of the development is about six acres.

“The property is zoned I-institutional and is regulated by a comprehensive site development plan and while the future development was found to be in alignment with those plans, the multiple family and two family residential uses in the institutional zoning district do require a conditional use permit,” Planning and Economic Development Director Angela Threadgill said.

For this CUP application, Threadgill acted as the applicant on behalf of the city.

“The development site of the proposed housing, which is called Village at Legacy, is approximately six acres located on the southeast corner of Legacy Park at the corner of Katie Kerr Drive and South Columbia Drive,” Threadgill said. “The development which is being carried out by the Decatur Housing Authority will be a two-phase project, resulting in a total of 132 dwelling units among duplexes and garden style apartments.”

Threadgill told the Decatur Planning Commission on Aug. 9 that phase one will consist of demolishing 10 vacant housing units on the property and building 66 affordable units. Phase two will be the construction of the remaining 66 units, bringing the total to 132 units. The first phase will have a range of one, two and three-bedroom units among a mix of housing types, including apartments and duplexes.

The site would also have vehicle access with an internal driveway that would lead to Katie Kerr Drive and South Columbia Drive.

“Lastly, the proposed development will be accessed by vehicles via an internal driveway that is approached from South Columbia Drive and Katie Kerr Drive, thus distributing vehicles to two different points of access, or ingress and egress, and the site is also accessible by an adjacent MARTA bus stop and nearby transit station via the East Decatur Greenway,” Threadgill told the city commission. “Then, a future realignment of Katie Kerr Drive with Kirk Road with a four-way fully signalized intersection will provide additional management of vehicular and pedestrian movement in that area.”

The internal driveway leads to four duplexes.

“That internal driveway would continue over and connect with Katie Kerr Drive in the vicinity of the tower, and maybe there’s a subdivision next to that,” Threadgill said. “As far as the residents, they would not have direct access to Katie Kerr or South Columbia. They would have to use this internal driveway to either go toward Katie Kerr or to South Columbia.”

The site plan remains the same as the plan the city commission approved in the spring.

A drawing from the proposed Housing Addendum to the Legacy Park Master Plan shows what types of buildings and amenities could go in the South Village near the intersection of Katie Kerr and South Columbia Drive. Buildings depicted in gray are existing buildings that would be renovated. Buildings in white would be new construction. Credit: City of Decatur.

The affordable housing development would fit in with the neighboring properties, according to the review standards for a conditional use permit outlined in the city’s unified development ordinance. One of the standards evaluates whether the residential use is suitable, considering the use and development of nearby properties.

“The proposed residential uses are suitable in view of the use and development of the adjacent Columbia Presbyterian Church, The Columbia Theological Seminary, which has residential and dormitory uses for faculty and students, as well as the Hargrove planned unit development of 62 three story townhomes, which is across Katie Kerr Drive,” Threadgill said.

The city also added language to the conditional use permit ordinance related to the tree save area after receiving written public comments about preserving that area.

The ordinance states that the “tree save area along South Columbia Drive shall be protected to the greatest and possible extent.” Protected trees cannot be disturbed or removed without the written permission of the city arborist in a tree conservation plan or tree removal permit.

After the city bought the former United Methodist Children’s Home — later renamed Legacy Park — the Decatur Legacy Park Master Plan was adopted by the city commission in December 2018. The final plan includes a housing addendum that provides detail about the housing goals identified during the planning process. One of the adopted housing concepts is the South Housing Village that envisions a community of affordable duplexes, walk-up flats and multiplexes, City Manager Andrea Arnold wrote in a previous memo.

The Legacy Park Master Plan proposes two separate affordable housing villages on the property — the South Housing Village and the North Housing Village. The housing addendum specifies the location and types of housing that will be allowed in each village.

In other business, the city commission awarded a contract to T&J Industries for $54,830 for repair and pavement restoration of five failing sections of streets throughout the city. The board will also consider establishing the project budget at $66,000.

“These areas are near 617 West Howard Avenue, 517 Ponce de Leon Place, Sycamore Place adjacent to 511 Sycamore Street, 135 Clarion Avenue, and the intersection of East Ponce de Leon Avenue and North Candler Street,” Senior Engineer Cara Scharer wrote in a memo. “The work includes traffic control, saw cutting the street section to be repaired, furnishing and installing the backfill material and restoring the asphalt pavement.”

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