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Decatur City Commission holding first of two votes on missing middle housing amendments

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Decatur City Commission holding first of two votes on missing middle housing amendments

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 — The Decatur City Commission will meet on Tuesday, Jan. 17, for two work sessions beginning at 5:45 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, and virtually via Zoom.

The first work session at 5:45 p.m. will focus on the fiscal year 2021-2022 annual comprehensive financial report. The second work session will be held at 6:30 p.m. and the city commission will discuss a short term rental policy.

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/97275812786. 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, January 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 a public hearing on a recommendation 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.

This will be the first of two votes taken by the city commission to amend the UDO. The commission will also consider the amendments on Feb. 6.

“Just as we did with the prior public hearings for the missing middle housing policy, we plan to limit public comment to 3 minutes per speaker for the public hearing,” City Manager Andrea Arnold said.

A sign-up sheet for in-person attendees will be available. Participants on Zoom will be able to speak after the in-person attendees and they will be taken as hands are raised.

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.

The ability to build and maintain a single-family home will not change if the amendments are approved.

After a five-hour long meeting, the planning commission voted in October to recommend denial of the city’s application due to deficiencies the commission members saw in the current proposal.

Since October, a few changes to the proposal were made. According to a memo from City Planner Kristin Allin, here are the changes:

– A four unit walk-up flat may also have one accessory dwelling unit, and will be subject to the mandatory inclusionary housing ordinance.

– For every 20 feet of street frontage of lot width, one qualifying on-street space may be counted towards off-street parking requirements; previously proposed at 15 feet.

– The effective date for the ordinance is June 30, 2023.

– For a period of eighteen (18) months from June 30, 2023 to December 31, 2024, there will be in place a building permit limitation in place in which duplex and walk up flat permits will be limited to three (3) per each City of Decatur lower elementary school district, so as to provide sufficient time for the city to effectively implement the zoning changes in a manner that best serves the community and minimizes any adverse impacts on City residents.

In other business, the city commission will also consider setting the election qualifying fees, renewing a traffic maintenance agreement and accept the extension of New Street.

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