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Decatur residents raise concerns about missing middle housing in hours-long hearing

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Decatur residents raise concerns about missing middle housing in hours-long hearing

Suzanne Thigpen comments on the missing middle housing proposal during the Decatur City Commission meeting on Monday, Oct. 17, 2022. Photo by Dean Hesse.

This story has been updated.

Decatur, GA — Following in the footsteps of the Decatur Planning Commission, the Decatur City Commission held an hours-long public hearing on missing middle housing policies to allow duplexes, triplexes and quadplexes in single-family residential areas during its regular meeting on Monday, Oct. 17.

About 80 residents attended in person to speak in favor of and against the proposals. Many concerns were raised about making blanket zoning changes, on-street parking, investor homes, absentee ownership, and short-term rentals.

Residents also urged the city commission to consider duplexes, triplexes, and quadplexes on a case-by-case basis. A few additionally suggested the proposals be a referendum for voters to consider.

The city commission did not vote on the proposals on Monday night. 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 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.

To read more about the meeting, view our updated story here

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