Decatur considers amending overhaul of zoning codes

Posted by Dan Whisenhunt January 19, 2015

It took months of work and public input sessions, but the Decatur City Commission finally completed its zoning code overhaul in November.

Commissioners adopted the new Unified Development Ordinance, a document more than 400 pages long that mostly updates the existing code. There were also changes aimed at making buildings more energy efficient and promoting affordable housing. But given the length of the document, it seemed unlikely that it would remain unedited for very long.

And sure enough, the city’s attorney has put forward a series of revisions for the City Commission’s consideration at the Jan. 20 regular meeting. The meeting begins with a work session at 6:30 pm and the regular meeting is at 7:30 pm. Meetings are held at 509 North McDonough Street and open to the public, except for the closed door executive session being held at 6 pm to discuss “legal matters.”

A memo from City Attorney Bryan Downs explains that some of the changes are meant to add clarity, like changing UDO Administrator to Zoning Administrator in the text, and clear up confusion about the appeals process.

“The primary changes are to Sections 11.2.1 0 and 11.2.11, and seek and to improve upon the procedures for administrative appeals to the ZBA and for appeals from the ZBA to Superior Court,” Downs memo says. “In addition, we are correcting some scrivener’s errors and attempting to make all the various appeal provisions within the UDO more uniform.”

There’s also a specific ordinance on changes to the environmental protection section of the UDO. The change includes adding a new section that says:

9.1.19 Appeals

A. Any person aggrieved by a decision of the City Arborist relating to the application of this Section 9.1 may appeal in writing to the UDO Administrator. Such appeal shall be filed within 30 days of the date of the written decision of the City Arborist being appealed and shall specify the grounds for appeal. The UDO Administrator shall provide a decision, in writing, within 30 days of the receipt of the written appeal.

B. Any person aggrieved by the decision of the UDO Administrator may file and appeal to the Board of Zoning Appeals pursuant to the provisions of Sec. 11.2.10.

Here is Downs’ full memo outlining the changes.

UDO Amendments Recommendation Memo

About Dan Whisenhunt

Dan Whisenhunt is editor and publisher of

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