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Decatur City Commission holding public hearing on missing middle housing proposals

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Decatur City Commission holding public hearing on missing middle housing proposals

Commissioners, pictured left to right, are: Mayor Pro Tem Tony Powers, Lesa Mayer, Kelly Walsh, Mayor Patti Garrett, and George Dusenbury. Photo obtained via the city of Decatur

This story has been updated.

Decatur, GA — The Decatur City Commission will meet on Monday, Oct. 17, for a work session at 6:30 p.m., followed by the regular meeting at 7:30 p.m. The regular meeting will be held in person at Decatur City Hall, 509 N. McDonough Street, as well as Zoom.

The work session will focus on the Decatur 101 program.

To access the meeting, follow these instructions:

To view the agenda, click here.

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.

2. Register in advance at https://zoom.us/j/91625031989. 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 Monday, October 17th.

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

During the regular meeting, the city commission will hold public hearings on three recommendations from the Decatur Planning Commission, including a recommendation to deny text amendments to the Unified Development Ordinance to allow duplexes, triplexes and quadplexes in single-family residential zoning districts.

The city commission is not expected to vote on the proposals at this time. The board 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.

“[House Bill]1405 amended the Zoning Procedures Law and states that for this type of zoning decision at least [two] public hearings must be held and the public hearings ‘shall be held at least three months and not more than nine months prior to the date of final action on the zoning decision,'” City Manager Andrea Arnold told Decaturish. “The two public hearing dates are October 11 and October 17, 2022.  Also, the zoning decision must be adopted at [two] meetings. In order to comply with these requirements, the dates to consider the proposed text amendments are January 17, 2023, and February 6, 2023.”

The board will set time limits for public comment during the hearings. The agenda states, “To ensure that all voices may be heard, public comment on the Planning Commission agenda items will be limited to 3 minutes per speaker. Sign up to speak by completing the sign-up sheet that will be made available at City Hall prior to the meeting.”

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 city commission 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.

After more than five hours, the planning commission voted to recommend denial of the city’s application due to deficiencies the commission members saw in the current proposal.

The planning commission members went back and forth about whether they should “approve with conditions” or deny, and ultimately voted to deny because of concerns related to design standards, square footage minimums, parking standards, unintended consequences of activities from private developers, and more.

The city commission will also hold a public hearing and will vote on ordinances to substitute gender-neutral pronouns in the city’s charter and the code of ordinances.

The city contracted with Municode in March 2021 to review Decatur’s code of ordinances for use of gendered language and provide recommended modifications “as part of our efforts to support equity and inclusion in the community,” Roark said.

Gendered language was found in the city’s charter, the general code sections and the unified development ordinance. There were 20 sections in the charter that had some gendered language, Roark said.

She added that the changes seek to modify all masculine and feminine language to gender-neutral language.

Writer Mary Margaret Stewart contributed to this article.

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