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Decatur Diary | July 21, 2014

Finally There: First draft of UDO work-in-progress released

Last Fall, meetings were held to establish and affirm how the Unified Development Ordinance should be approached and structured, and to determine any areas of potential regulation requiring further discussion.

This Spring, “Hack the Code” sessions were held to explore the four identified areas: community character, stormwater, green building, and zoning approaches to expand the City’s allowable housing types. Residents also provided comments and direction here, through

Beginning in May, we assessed the amassed — and diverse — comments; sought direction, areas of agreement or potential compromise; and began work on the comprehensive draft.

That first draft (most of which consists of a “clean-up” of existing regulations, such as the addition of graphics and tables, the use of “plain language,” the use of consistent terms throughout, and the removal of regulations that are unnecessarily repeated) is now complete and is being released for initial public review July 21, 2014 — through this site (below) and in-person via a four-day long series of Q&A open house sessions in locations around the city. These sessions will allow residents to review the code, ask initial questions, and get direct information as it relates to the process.

For example, some have asked if the UDO will institute expanded neighborhood preservation regulations. Though a preservation-lite approach was an early consideration that came out of last Fall’s community input, such broader preservation options have been off the table since March, when they joined no shortage of other discarded ideas that have failed to gain support or be technically feasible.

The draft presented here and in the Q&A sessions reflects a baseline work-in-progress that will now be subject to weeks of community review and revision before its formal submission to the city commission, expected some time in October. Here’s what to expect moving forward (subject to revision as the process drills down):

Residents meet with Decatur planning director Amanda Thompson on day one of the Q&A sessions.

Residents meet with Decatur planning director Amanda Thompson on day one of the Q&A sessions.

July 21:
Draft released via both and a 4-day series of Q&A meetings. Initial public review and comment period begins.

August 15: Initial review and comment period ends. New draft, reflecting input, prepared for second comment and review period, as well as discussion with the city commission in two September public work sessions.

Early to mid September: Draft v.02, reflecting input from the community and from our resident boards and commissions, released. Second public review and comment period begins.

September 22 and 24: Draft v.02 explored by the city commission in two public work sessions.

Early October: Draft v.03 released. At some point thereafter, a final draft will be submitted to the city commission for consideration of adoption. Public will again have opportunity to speak. Stay tuned for more specific dates.

Dig In

The following DRAFT FILES, as of July 21, 2014, are now available for your review:

Summary of Major Changes
A quick-read overview of where significant changes occur in the draft ordinance. (.pdf)

Clarification Notes for High-Performance / Green Building
Details re: community input that any proposed green regulations focus primarily on new development rather than on more typical household improvements, renovations or upgrades. (.pdf)

Draft Articles 1 through 12 of the Unified Development Code, plus Appendix
The full draft, as of July 21, 2014. (16.9mb .pdf)

In the days since these meetings took place, a number of the most common questions have been answered. See the latest here. Or, want your thoughts on the record? Submit them here.

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