Posts Tagged ‘UDO’

UPDATE: Both work sessions will be live streamed and archived online here.

Want to learn more about the proposed Unified Development Ordinance (UDO)? The City Commission has two work sessions, one tonight and one Wednesday, to go over everything it includes. The community is welcome to attend one or both work sessions and listen in, but please note that there will not be an opportunity for public comment at either of these meetings.

The work sessions are Monday, Sept. 22 and Wed., Sept. 24 from 5 p.m. – 8 p.m. in the City Commission Meeting Room, City Hall, 509 N McDonough St.

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Be on the look out for new Open City Hall questions next week about high performance (green) buildings. Meanwhile, you can share your thoughts on three key questions about the draft Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) on Open City Hall now.

UDO phases

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The Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) process continues, and the community is asked to weigh in on three key questions.

  • Minimum floor area requirement: Should the city eliminate its minimum floor area requirements for homes, to allow residents to build more affordable housing that has less environmental impact?
  • Design review for increased floor area: Should residents be able to increase the floor area of their property by 6% if the Historic Preservation Commission approves the design?
  • Demolition delay: Should the city require property owners to post demolition permits for 15 days before demolition, to give neighbors more notice and provide the opportunity for interested parties to propose alternative uses for the property before demolition? There is no current posting requirement for demolition permits.

Go to the city’s Open City Hall page now and let us know what you think.  The questions close Sept. 7 at 11:59 p.m.


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The Unified Development Ordinance process has taken our existing development regulations, tidied up their inconsistencies, incorporated certain goals from the Strategic Plan, and consolidated everything into a single, easy, unified document. It’s now ready for your review and comment. Please join us at one or more of the following meetings:

Monday, July 21
9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Decatur Recreation Center, 231 Sycamore Street

Tuesday, July 22
9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Decatur Recreation Center, 231 Sycamore Street

Wednesday, July 23
10 a.m. – Noon and 7 p.m. – 9 p.m.
The Solarium in the Oakhurst Village

Thursday, July 24
10 a.m. – Noon and 7 p.m. – 9 p.m.
City Commission Meeting Room, City Hall, 509 N. McDonough St.

UDO phases

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The city’s Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) process wrapped up its second phase in May after four drill-down sessions explored  details of  the following regulatory topics:

Community character: What is it? Does it matter, and how/if should it be regulated? Participant sentiments were diverse, from increased control over details like house size and lot coverage to loosening up regulations currently in place to removing some regulations altogether.

Storm water management and the balancing of individual and community concerns. For example, those at the top of a water flow may feel differently about adding a large, impervious patio than those at the bottom of the flow dealing with a flooded basement fueled by increased runoff. The meeting explored ways to broaden residents options for meeting storm water requirements easier and possibly less costly through the use of trees and green infrastructure.

Sustainability with a focus on high performance and “green” buildings, as well as issues such as outdoor lighting, animals, and unbundled parking.

New Zoning categories leveraged in service of the City’s housing goals that emerged during the 2010 Strategic Plan were presented for consideration and discussion.

Phase 3 of the Unified Development Ordinance, which includes distilling the community conversation into rules for consideration, is currently underway. The UDO team began responding to all feedback received in May. The timeline moving forward is:

June: Preliminary direction presented to the UDO citizen Steering Committee; City Commission updated on progress; initial drafts reviewed by city staff.

July: Full draft released for public review via DecaturNext.com; drill-down issues addressed via Open City Hall.

August: Full draft presented to City Commission. Review and comment period opens, followed by second draft late in the month.

September: Comprehensive draft presented to Planning Commission and City Commission.

Visit  www.decaturnext.com for ongoing coverage on the process so far and moving forward and share your thoughts on the issues raised.

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Originally posted on DecaturNext.com

The Missing Middle: UDO meeting April 23 explores new zoning categories


The Strategic Plan’s goals for a more diversified housing mix reflect a gap — what we’re calling the missing middle — between our predominantly single-family residential and our downtown. This session explores the idea of transitional districts to accommodate things like live/work units, downtown-friendly townhouses, small-scale apartment buildings, neighborhood-scaled mixed use, cottage courts, and more, and gauges the circumstances under which such solutions might make sense.


Consider R-60. Currently, some residents are concerned that market demand for large houses is leading to a reduction in the number of small, neighborhood homes suited to empty-nesters and young professionals — the results of which has a direct impact on diversity across a wide range of factors.

However, others are concerned that certain limits on house size hamper the market’s ability to respond to demand and may make it difficult for growing families seeking additional space to remain in their homes.

If you’re looking solely at the rules for R-60, it’s obvious that both cannot be accommodated at the same time. No rule can allow for a bigger house while simultaneously limiting development to smaller houses. But maybe there’s another way for everyone to get some sense of what they want.

One idea that’s been raised during both the Strategic Plan and UDO processes is the cottage court, a neighborhood-friendly approach gaining traction nationwide — typified in the work of architect Ross Chapin, who wrote the book “Pocket Neighborhoods.” It works like this:

Today, given the price of land in Decatur, if a builder/developer were able to buy 2 or 3 contiguous lots, the typical response would be the construction of a single large home on each lot. There’s certainly demand for it and the obstacles to doing so are limited. But perhaps these lots are on a street with predominantly smaller houses. Maybe from a neighborhood perspective, people prefer the existing, single-story character of the street. What to do?

Enter the cottage court. Cottage courts are collections of small, single or 1.5 story houses, ranging from 800 to 1,200 square feet, arranged around a common green space. They would exist as a separate zoning category that a landowner, if so inclined, could pursue, resulting in a zoning hearing in which neighbors could be heard: Would they prefer a smaller number of larger homes (as we’d typically have today) or would they prefer a larger number of smaller homes? If agreement could be found, a builder would then have an option to meet demand for smaller homes while still accommodating the cost of the land — an alternative that does not presently exist.

A cottage court. Image credit: http://www.thetinylife.com

A cottage court. Image credit: http://www.thetinylife.com

As a result, we’d have a viable new option — one that acknowledges the challenges of high land cost yet is suited to both those starting out and those looking to downsize while remaining in the same neighborhood. Is this a tool the community might be interested in? In what ways or under what circumstances?


The session will also look into a number of other items:

1) A variety of clean-up modifications to existing zoning categories for consideration, including some suggested tweaks to C-1, Neighborhood Commercial, that would allow live/work units and other mixed-use buildings, as well as some design standards rooted in walkability and transitions;

2) The possibility of a new, R-50 zoning category, which could be tailored to large swaths of R-60 lots that, in reality, are closer to 50 feet wide (categorizing something currently addressed by our zoning code’s “sliding scale” for nonconforming lots); and

3) A suggested “neighborhood mixed-use” category that, over time, would afford Decatur’s single-use neighborhoods the option of adding in very small increments of neighborhood-serving retail or office.


It’s a lot to chew on, so make plans to come and contribute. We look forward to seeing you there.

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Join us Wednesday, March 26, from 7 – 9 p.m. at City Hall for the second of our UDO Drill-Down sessions. Members of the UDO engineering team will be on hand to present on Decatur’s stormwater challenges and how those challenges are currently managed.

More information about this and future Unified Development Ordinance meetings is available at DecaturNext.com 


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As part of phase two of the Unified Development Ordinance (UDO), we’ll be holding a series of subject-specific interactive meetings during March and April. This first meeting is Wednesday, March 12, from 7-9 p.m. at Decatur City Hall. We’ll be discussing community character – the look and feel of Decatur’s neighborhoods – and considering what, if anything, we should do to better protect or enhance it.

Visit DecaturNext.com for more details about the meeting and to leave your thoughts, ideas or concerns about the topic.

For a complete schedule of the community meetings, click here.

Please make time to join us.

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