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.