Decatur’s zoning ordinance to get major rewrite

By Bob Buckel | Published Saturday, October 20, 2012

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On Oct. 2, the city of Decatur’s Planning & Zoning Commission appointed a subcommittee to review a proposed rewrite of the city’s Zoning Ordinance.

The task will take the subcommittee at least six or seven meetings, on a schedule that began with the first meeting Thursday.

The rewritten Zoning Ordinance is 161 pages long and is designed to clarify and streamline the myriad of codes that regulate building in the city of Decatur. After 30 pages of definitions, it spells out the duties of the P&Z Commission and the Zoning Board of Adjustment, then goes on to outline procedures for securing building permits and certificates of occupancy, lay out the city’s zoning districts – residential, non-residential and special – and provide charts and text that regulate land use within the city limits.

It deals with area, lot dimensions, building heights, setbacks, yard and parking requirements, loading zones, noise regulations, wireless requirements and landscaping. Zoning procedures and administration, zoning districts, use regulations and development standards have been updated and revised throughout the ordinance.

The subcommittee is chaired by Bob Bastian, whose term as chairman of the P&Z Commission ends Oct. 31. Members include P&Z vice-chair Lisa Estrada and member Davey Edwards, land use attorney Patricia Adams, City Planning Director Dedra D. Ragland, and ex oficio member Mayor Martin Woodruff. Cecil Lemond and Mark Duncum, members of the Zoning Board of Adjustment, were invited to join the Subcommittee. Duncum declined due to previous commitments, and Ragland said Friday she had not heard from LeMond.

“If there are citizens who are interested in how the city will develop in the future, they’re welcome to join this group,” she said. “This would be a good way to get some input into that process.”

The goal, she noted, is to make the process clearer and more user-friendly. The subcommittee will work to see that the draft Zoning Ordinance meets the expectations and goals identified by the P&Z and City Council in 2008, Ragland said.

Meetings were set for Oct. 18, 24 and 29 and Nov. 7, 14, 19 and 28. The group will present a progress report to the city council Nov. 7.

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