Decatur City Commission denies request for subdividing portion of Oakhurst Dog Park

Posted by Dan Whisenhunt May 18, 2015
The location of the Oakhurst Dog Park. Source: Google Maps

The location of the Oakhurst Dog Park. Source: Google Maps

Decatur City Commissioners on May 18 voted to deny a request from a developer to subdivide a half acre lot that’s part of the Oakhurst Dog Park.

The developer sought to buy the roughly half-acre of property from its current owner, the Boys and Girls Club. The park is located on East Lake Drive. The developer wants to build homes there.

Commissioners voted unanimously against the petition to subdivide the property, even as the developer – Weaver Capital – argued the city acted improperly by beginning negotiations with the Boys and Girls Club to buy the entire property. Supporters of the dog park spoke for more than an hour, urging commissioners to reject the petition to subdivide the lot.

Mayor Jim Baskett said the city stood to lose far more than it would gain by approving the subdivision request.

“When I look at the way it’s been used and I look at what could be lost here, with just so little to gain I can’t personally come to any other conclusion that this is not in the general best welfare of our community,” Baskett said.

This is a developing story. Keep checking for more details.

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  • josh

    It sounds to me like what was “lost” was private property rights. I’m astounded by the mayor’s quote.

    • Laura

      Josh and Kupe, it’s a little more complicated than private property rights. The petition was for subdivision, which has standards in our municipal code. The city commission seemed to think that the subdivision petition fell short (to varying degrees) on all four standards. The meeting was very informative. I wish you could have been there! The quote from the mayor was addressing specifically the 4th standard and was taken a bit out of context.

      Here is the relevant info copied/pasted from


      Sec. 90-201. – Approval of subdivisions—Standards.

      The following standards shall be considered by the planning commission in preparing a recommendation and by the city commission in determining whether a subdivision shall be approved:


      Is the proposed subdivision suitable in view of the use and development of adjacent and nearby property?


      Does the proposed subdivision adversely affect the existing use or usability of adjacent and nearby property?


      Does the proposed subdivision result in a development which will or could cause an excessive or burdensome use of existing streets, transportation facilities, utilities, or schools?


      Are there other existing or changing conditions affecting the use and development of the property which, because of their impact on the public health, safety, morality and general welfare of the community, give supporting grounds for either approval or disapproval of the proposed subdivision?

      (Code 1967, § 21-41)

      • Kupe

        Thanks for sharing Laura. I appreciate you sharing some context. I understand the City is looking to buy the property. Rumors are discussed a school could get built there. Seems like a school could would not meet the above criteria.

        • Laura

          Hard to imagine anything built there not making traffic worse…

          • Crambone

            Agreed, but the words “excessive or burdensome use” are highly open to interpretation. All of the four criteria seem very subjective to me. In fact, the four criteria are supposed to be “considered” in making a decision. It doesn’t say that these are the rules that have to be followed.

          • Laura

            Well, it was my first City Commission meeting so I am no expert (can’t remember even voting for Commissioner – maybe they run unopposed sometimes), but it seemed to me that their job as elected officials was to listen to the petition, listen to public comment, consider the recommendation of the planning commission, consider the standards for subdivision and then to approve or deny the petition. It is subjective, I agree, but their job is to make these decisions. I don’t think this issue warrants some kind of city wide referendum where every citizen votes. If we had to all vote on every single issue, our city would not be able to function.

  • Kupe

    So, if this was just a wooded lot on someone’s property would the city commission allow this? If the homes built on this lot were 2 million each would that be enough for the city to gain? I’m bothered by the decision. I was unable to attend the meeting due to a prior commitment so this is the only information I have heard. If anyone can fill in the blanks that would help.

    • Ken

      Why are you bothered by the decision to prevent corporate greed from ruining an wonderful community treasure?

      • Crambone

        Isn’t it overreacting to say that taking part of the park and building houses would be ruining it. If they were demolishing the whole park maybe I’d agree, but this would have just been part of it.

        Having said that, I’m not sorry they’re not building two more gigantic, boring houses in our neighborhood.

      • Kupe

        I’m bothered because as Josh stated it is impacting personal property rights. I like having the dog park, but the land is not owned by the city. The Girls and Boys club owns it. Other land owners ask for subdivision and the community does not get up in arms. And why is this corporate greed?

        • Laura

          Every subdivision petition is different because the properties are different. The subdivision and development of this property would affect the community negatively in the opinion of the Planning Commission and City Commission.

          • Kupe

            I get that. Does this send a message, don’t let the city use your land? If the community gets attached there may not be a way to do anything different.

          • Laura

            It’s even more complicated than that in this case. The City of Decatur sold this piece of Oakhurst Park to the B&G Club in the 1980s for a song because (I think) that use was seen to be the most beneficial to the community at that time. I also learned last night that the awesome athletic field there was/is some combination of developed/funded/maintained by the city. This land has always benefited the welfare of the entire community and the vote last night is a step towards keeping it that way.

          • Daniel Hodlick

            And will you be content when CSD builds a school there?

          • Laura

            It’s hard for me to picture a school there because I am spatially challenged and unimaginative. However, regardless of my opinion that we have too many rug rats in Oakhurst, they are here. I think a new school would better serve the needs of a community with overcrowded schools than two more houses. I have a utilitarian bent. I’d rather have a forest to roam in with my dog, but I admit there could be a better use even if I can’t conceive of it. I’m pretty sure it’s not two more houses, though.

    • Laura

      I replied to you and josh under josh’s comment. Unable to repost here.

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