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Decatur hosting missing middle housing public hearings on Oct. 11, 17

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Decatur hosting missing middle housing public hearings on Oct. 11, 17

Decatur City Hall.

This story has been updated. 

Decatur, GA — The city of Decatur will host two public hearings in October to discuss the city’s housing affordability recommendations for missing middle housing.

The Decatur Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on Oct. 11 at 7 p.m. and the city commission will hold a public hearing on Oct. 17 at 7:30 p.m. The city commission will also discuss the missing middle housing recommendations on Jan. 17 and Feb. 6 at 7:30 p.m. All the meetings will take place at Decatur City Hall, 509 N. McDonough Street.

Two public hearings will be held in October to discuss Decatur’s housing affordability recommendations for missing middle housing.

Tomorrow, city staff will begin placing blue signs throughout the city to give notice of the hearings and remain in compliance with HB1405. pic.twitter.com/OGqLxsXoWT

— City of Decatur- GA (@CityofDecaturGA) September 22, 2022

The city has been working to once again allow duplexes, triplexes, and quadplexes in city neighborhoods, which was a recommendation of the Affordable Housing Task Force. This recommendation was incorporated into the city’s 2030 strategic plan. This type of housing would have to conform to the size limitations of single family homes.

“The proposed text amendments limit the size, height, setbacks, floor area ratio, and other requirements for the duplex (2 unit) and walk up flat (3-4 unit) buildings as the same as for a single-family home in order to ensure the fit of these buildings within the traditional development patterns of existing single-family neighborhoods,” City Planner Kristin Allin wrote in a memo to the planning commission.

There are some duplexes, triplexes, quadplexes and small apartment buildings throughout the city, but the housing type was gradually disallowed in single-family neighborhoods, with duplexes, being the last housing type, being disallowed in 1988.

The housing types were disallowed in 1988 due to absentee ownership, Allin said at the May 2 Decatur City Commission meeting.

Currently, new duplexes, triplexes, and quadplexes cannot be built and homes cannot be converted into these types of housing within the city. Single-family homes are the only housing type allowed in residential zoning and 67% of the city is single-family zoning, Allin previously said.

“This zoning change, which occurred in the 1980s, has set Decatur on a trajectory wherein many of the ‘missing middle’ (duplex, triplex, and quadplex) units throughout Decatur’s neighborhoods have been replaced with larger, single-family homes and where the size and prices of homes in Decatur, as well as the property tax valuations, has increased dramatically over the past decades,” Allin wrote in the memo.

The city is considering two proposals:

1. To allow construction of and conversion to duplexes (2-units) and walk up flats (3-4 units) in R-50, R-60, R-85, and RS-17 zoning districts by limited use, and to comply with same size and setback requirements of detached homes.

2. To require parking compliance of 1 space per dwelling unit – as is currently required for detached homes – and to allow up to 50% of parking to for duplexes (2-units) and walk up flats (3-4 units) to be on-street parking, so long as frontage space meets requirements, and on-street parking is allowed.

“What we’re really looking at and considering is housing options,” Mayor Patti Garrett said during a missing middle housing forum. “We don’t have many options currently available. How do we expand those options so that more people can find a place that they can call home in the city of Decatur. I’ve stated this before, but we have to be bold and intentional in our efforts. It’s just not going to happen if we let the status quo continue. We have to be intentional in our efforts to create the change necessary to support our core values in the city of Decatur of diversity and inclusion.”

The average home price in Decatur was over $700,000 in 2021.

“The trajectory of Decatur’s neighborhoods since around the time this was passed has trended to larger and more expensive homes, families with children, higher incomes and has trended away from smaller homes and housing diversity,” Allin said during the forum. “We’ve trended away from some of these middle income options and housing for all stages of life like the 20-34 [year old] range and older residents.”

Further details and specifics can be found at decaturga.com/affordablehousing.

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