The final master plan for Decatur’s Legacy Park. Note the north and south housing villages—it’s still to be determined how many units or the type units will fill these villages. The most expensive single item is the track, estimated at $4 to $7 million and, for now, planned for 10 to 15 years down the road. The 22 acres in the rear or eastern portion, featuring the lake and forest, will remain mostly as it is today. Courtesy City of Decatur

Decatur’s Legacy Park master plan approved, next comes annexation

Decatur City Manager Peggy Merriss occasionally points out, “nothing moves fast in a democracy.” But last week (on Dec. 3) after city commissioners approved the Decatur Legacy Park Master Plan, she recalled, “It was just about two years ago tonight [commissioners] authorized us to begin negotiating for that property. Tonight we have before us the master plan. Quite honestly, by government standards that’s the speed of light.”

“Legacy Park”— the former United Methodist Children’s Home—is 77 acres of varied and intriguing terrain. The city eventually bought the property for $40 million in August 2017, and then began master planning last February. That lasted over 10 months, yielding three public workshops, numerous community dinners and two online surveys that collected 2500 public comments.

The master plan, as City Planner Angela Threadgill points out, is a general guide for what the city could build on the site. Greater detail and specifics will come from a comprehensive development site plan that will define the type housing in the north housing village (south of Derrydown Way) and the south housing village (north of Katie Kerr Drive). It would also define number of units, maximum density, maximum building height, building setbacks and how many “affordable” units.

But the next immediate step is annexing the property into the city. Decatur is planning on annexation by the General Assembly through local legislation, a method that doesn’t require a referendum. This should finish by next spring and include all 77 acres plus 15 residential properties on Derrydown.

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