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Decatur City Council approves P&Z requests

By Brian Knox | Published Saturday, April 13, 2019
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The Decatur City Council Monday approved nine planning and zoning items and referred one item back to the planning and zoning commission.

The council considered a zoning change request from single family-2 (SF-2) to two-family (2F) for a 0.431 acre tract of land at 305 S. Vernon Street. City Planning Director Dedra Ragland explained that Larry Henry is seeking to build a duplex on the lot, and the zoning change is necessary for the structure to be built.

The planning and zoning commission voted 3-1 in favor of recommending the zoning change, but since a majority vote of four of the seven commissioners is needed to formally recommend approval, the official recommendation was for denial.

That would also mean a super majority vote of the city council in order to overturn the P&Z recommendation and approve the zoning change request.

That left the council with three options: approve the request, deny the request or refer the matter back to the P&Z.

“We’ve encountered this before where a super majority is required or in this case we have to have four members vote on the P&Z in order to act on things. I’d like to send this back to P&Z to reconsider,” Mayor Martin Woodruff said.

The council agreed and voted to send the matter back to the P&Z.

In another planning and zoning item, the council approved a request by Mr. and Mrs. Sean Browning for a variance from the city’s sidewalk regulations at 2101 Deer Park Road.

Sidewalk regulations were mentioned at last week’s council candidate forum.

Ragland addressed criticism that the report on the item was not complete when it was brought to the P&Z meeting last week.

“I would like to point out the staff report in your packet is the same staff report presented to the planning and zoning commission last Tuesday,” she said. “If you will recall, we don’t make recommendations on sidewalk, curb and gutter variances. What we do is provide findings, not recommendations. The report is the exact same report. It is a complete report, not an incomplete report. We don’t operate in that fashion. We certainly don’t convey to the public if there are issues with a staff report or whoever has issued that staff report. What we present to the P&Z and you guys is a thorough analysis. That’s our job, that’s our responsibility, and we take it very seriously.”

City Engineer Earl Smith also addressed the issue while giving his findings about the request.

“It was misrepresented at the council forum debate the other night. One of the council candidates who was saying that this was presented and the planning and public works directors were saying it was incomplete – it’s not incomplete and was not incomplete that night,” Smith said.

The council also approved a residential replat application by Johnny Cohoon for property at 1200 S. College.

Seven of the items were approved with one vote as part of a consent agenda item. Those items included:

  • a preliminary and final plat application by Mr. and Mrs. Brian Bosworth.
  • a preliminary and final plat application by FX5 Real Estate for the Decatur Shopping Center (where Dollar General is located).
  • a preliminary and final plat application by the Brownings for their property.
  • a final plat application by Ronald Walker for 1803 S. U.S. 81/287.

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