City Commission hears from First Graders, reviews audit, updates zoning

Posted by Dan Whisenhunt January 21, 2015
An Oakhurst Elementary First Grader gives Decatur City Commissioners her adorable suggestions for improving her community. Photo provided by Meredith Hill, a teacher at Oakhurst Elementary.

An Oakhurst Elementary First Grader gives Decatur City Commissioners her adorable suggestions for improving her community. Photo provided by Meredith Hill, a teacher at Oakhurst Elementary.

This story has been updated. 

The First Graders at Oakhurst Elementary swarmed the Decatur City Commission meeting on Jan. 20 to give commissioners their suggestions for improving their neighborhood.

One student, Watts, told commissioners, “We have been learning about differences and what one little person can do. We’re fixing stuff in downtown Oakhurst for people with differences. There are no ramps in downtown Oakhurst so people with wheelchairs won’t be able to get up on the sidewalk. It would be really difficult for them to live here.”

And so forth. It was quite adorbs, as they say, and commissioners got a kick out of it.

The rest of the meeting was a humdrum affair as commissioners went through a buffet of non-cute governmental items, like reviewing the audit and amending the city’s zoning code.

The audit for Fiscal 2014 contained this item:

“It is anticipated that by the end of calendar year 2014, the City will issue permits for at least 96 new single-family dwellings and the demolition of 61 existing dwellings. Overall, permit and inspection fees increased from $710,600 in fiscal year 2013 to $1,481,250 in fiscal year 2014, a 108 percent increase.”

City Manager Peggy Merriss said most of that money went to a city contractor, SAFEbuilt, which receives 75 percent of the money collected in exchange for conducting the inspections. The flip side of that is the city would have to pay a full time employee to do it otherwise.

The city’s recently approved annexation plan hasn’t been presented in the state legislature, and Merris didn’t have any predictions about when that might happen. Decatur and Avondale Estates have both submitted plans to the legislature, and there are several cityhood proposals being pushed this year as well. As of Jan. 20, no bills supporting these ideas have been introduced.

“We’ll be talking to legislators,” Merriss said. “We have four legislators that represent Decatur. There’s a lot of conversations that have to happen before things go forward.”

Commissioners also approved edits to the recently adopted Unified Development Ordinance, a comprehensive overhaul of the city’s zoning codes.

About Dan Whisenhunt

Dan Whisenhunt is editor and publisher of Decaturish.com. https://www.linkedin.com/in/danwhisenhunt

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  • Mel

    The item about the inspection fees is a bit shocking on its face. Is it not worth retaining the one million dollars paid over to SafeBuilt for the City to hire a full time inspector (or three)? Am I missing something?

  • Eh…Bola

    Permitting and inspection fees doubled in one year . . . and commissioners are still sticking by this “there are 23 kids in the annexed area, so that is how many there will be 3 years from now” logic that they’ve been presenting in all their financial justifications?

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