How Will Decatur Use the United Methodist Children’s Home Property If Purchased?

The Decatur City Commission will vote at tonight’s meeting to purchase the United Methodist Children’s Home 77 acre property that sits along South Columbia Drive, just outside the Decatur city limits.  If approved, the city would then move to annex the property into the city limits.

But then what?

The City Manager Peggy Merriss’ memo to the commission notes that the city would then start up one of its favorite activities – community-based master planning!  But her note also goes on to give a sense of what the city is thinking about in terms of utilizing the property in the coming months/years….

The property includes athletic fields and a gymnasium that can be used to address the increasing demands of Decatur’s families and children for places to play and socialize. There are also existing facilities that could be used to house the City’s Children and Youth Services Division and help provide an opportunity to expand afterschool and summer programs.  There are approximately 25 acres of open and green space that can be preserved.

“The UMCH staff anticipates that they will be able to vacate the property in late summer/early fall, 2017.” , according to the City Manager.  So look for a lot more activity surrounding this purchase in the coming months.

Decatur City & Schools To Hold Annexation Work Session Next Tuesday


Decatur City Manager Peggy Merriss sent around an announcement this week stating that the City Commission and School Board would hold a joint work session this coming Tuesday June 7th at 7p to discuss “annexation policy”. That’s all we know at this point.

But back in February, after the GA legislature failed to pass the city’s annexation bill, the city and schools stated in a joint statement

It is anticipated that the City Commission and the Board of Education will revisit annexation later in 2016 to determine what options should be pursued in the future.

So there you go.

UPDATED: Decatur Special Meeting To Approve School Bond Being Rescheduled

Screen Shot 2016-01-25 at 6.35.09 PM

UPDATE 1/26 -9:52a: I received this message from City Manager Merriss this morning…

The called meeting for the City of Decatur Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) scheduled for 3:45pm today and the called City Commission Meeting scheduled for 4:00pm today have been cancelled and will be rescheduled.

The City Commission Meeting was called for the purpose of approving the issuance of General Obligation Bonds for school purposes but the bond bid will be rescheduled to allow additional time for the City of Decatur and the City Schools of Decatur to complete some due diligence items.

The URA Meeting was scheduled because the City Commission was already going to be at City Hall but that is no longer the case and it will be rescheduled to a more appropriate time.

UPDATE 1/26:  I followed up with the City Manager and asked about the special timing of the meeting.  She replied that the bonds are actually being bid this morning and the city commission needs to approve their issuance.  Since the State of the City is at 5:15p, they are trying to get in the vote before that.

City Manager Peggy Merriss has announced that the Decatur City Commission will hold a special meeting tomorrow at 4pm to vote on approving the issuance of $75 million in General Obligation Bonds for the City Schools of Decatur that a majority of voters cast “Yes” votes for in last November’s election.

The agenda for the afternoon meeting shows that there will be time for public comment prior to the vote.

As many of you are aware, CSD asked the general public for the bonds to expand its infrastructure to accommodate growing enrollment.  More than 3 in 4 Decatur residents voted in favor of the bond.

City Manager Merriss also noted that the Urban Redevelopment Authority will meet at 3:45p tomorrow to elect new officers and confirming new members.

Graphic courtesy of CSD

What Capital Improvements is Decatur Planning in Next 10 Years?


At tonight’s Decatur City Commission meeting, City Manager Peggy Merriss will present a 10-Year Capital Improvement Plan to the Commission for approval.  In a note to the Commission, Ms. Merriss states…

The ten-year capital plan represents the first time the City has combined all of its capital improvement plans into one document. It provides a comprehensive depiction of Decatur’s current and anticipated capital improvement needs, including expenditures and revenue sources, for a ten year period. The plan is another step in an ongoing conversation with the community regarding infrastructure investment, service level standards and funding priorities.

Ms. Merriss also mentions that the city will be updating the plan annually going forward.

Sure there are many mundane items like painting City Hall and car payments, also details many of Decatur’s planned infrastructure improvements and ongoing upkeep over the next decade. – CLICK HERE to view it yourself.

For example, here are a few items worth noting offhand.

  • Fiber Network Installation – There’s $100,000 earmarked for the next 5 years, assumedly related to Google Fiber’s plans to install service in Decatur in the coming years.
  • CCC Pedestrian and Bike Safety Improvements – Over $1 million in both 16-17 and 17-18
  • North McDonough Streetscapes and McDonough/Candler railroad crossings – $708,000 ($342,000 from HOST funding) and $200,000 ($570,000 from HOST fuding) budgeted respectively for these two projects in 2015-16 and 2016-17.
  • Public Art – $10,000 a year budgeted
  • Hidden Cove Park will see $50,000 in 2018-19 and $100,000 investments/year from 2019-2021.

Tell us what other notable items you see in the comments!

Photo courtesy of The Decatur Minute

UPDATED: Decatur Annexation Legislation Area is 66% Commercial

UPDATE: We’ve received more details from the City Manager.  This is must read for all you annexation junkies…

  • The area in the proposed legislation is valued in DeKalb County tax records at approximately $396,347,000.  Of that value, $111,711,000 (28%) is residential; $262,278,000 (66%) is commercial and $22,358,000 (6%) is exempt.
  • This is consistent with the City’s annexation objectives and will provide sufficient property tax revenue to the City of Decatur ($4.9mm) to cover our costs and provide property tax revenue ($7.6mm) to the City Schools of Decatur that will exceed their costs.
  • The proposed legislation incorporates 70% of the real property value included in the City’s overall annexation master plan, with an area that is 2/3’s commercial property. The inclusion of Decatur Terrace adds 4% to the overall plan.
  • Annexation is a long-term investment in the future of the City and the City Schools.

The legislative process is not perfect and requires negotiation, compromise and cooperation.  The members of the Georgia House of Representative who represent Decatur have various parts of the master plan in their districts, with Rep. Drenner having the very significant share so her sponsorship of a bill for the legislative areas she represents is a major part of the over all plan. None of the proposed annexation master plan areas are located in Rep. Oliver’s district.  All four legislators co-signed Rep. Drenner’s bill.


Decatur City Manager Peggy Merriss followed up with us regarding the commercial and residential breakdown of the proposed annexation area presented by Rep. Karla Drenner to the Georgia Legislature on Monday, which includes pieces of Annexation Areas B and C from the Master Plan and the addition of residential neighborhood of Decatur Terrace.  Here it is —

  • 66% Commercial
  • 28% Residential
  • 6% Exempt

We don’t have data that breaks out the impact on the school system, but as a general rule commercial areas benefit the school system because they pay into it without contributing any students.

Decatur’s current residential/commercial ratio is 85% residential/15% commercial.

Decatur Terrace Neighborhood Added To Decatur Annexation Bill

Decatur City Manager Peggy Merriss has confirmed that Rep. Karla Drenner has included Decatur Terrace, a neighborhood of 147 residential parcels south of East College Avenue on Decatur’s eastern border, in her Decatur annexation bill that she introduced to the legislature on Monday.

Decatur Terrace petitioned the City of Decatur back in October 2014 for inclusion in its annexation plan, but wasn’t ultimately included in the city’s Annexation Master Plan.

The partial Decatur annexation bill only includes the annexation of parcels within Rep. Drenner’s district.

That said, all of this may be for naught.  Rep. Drenner told Decaturish the other day that she has doubts whether any of the annexation bills will pass the Legislature this year.

Decatur To Look at Other Options for Remainder of Annexation Areas

We followed up with Decatur City Manager Peggy Merriss about this morning’s report that Rep. Karla Drenner would support the Decatur’s annexation plan for the areas in her district.  Ms. Merriss said “Currently only Rep. Drenner has been willing to sponsor a bill and we believe that it will be introduced today or tomorrow.”

As for the other annexation areas not included in Rep. Drenner’s district, Ms. Merriss believes that “given the session deadline for the 2015 General Assembly, we have concluded that we will have to take a look at other options after the General Assembly has concluded.”  She clarified that this includes trying again in the 2016 General Assembly.