By Brian Knox | Wise County Messenger
PROPOSED CHANGES – The city is considering a number of modifications to the city’s land use map. Above, the map shows the proposed land use extension into the city’s ETJ surrounding the city limits. Below left, the area shaded in blue shows the proposed mixed use area along the Hale Street corridor. Below right, the hatched area shows where the city is considering extending the downtown land use area.
Decatur will be planning town hall meetings in the next few months to get public input on a couple of proposed changes to the city’s land use map.
DIFFERENT LAND USES – The key above shows the different land uses in the city of Decatur and corresponds to all three maps shown.
The city council and planning and zoning commission held a joint workshop at city hall Monday to discuss the possibility of expanding the downtown land use district to the north and south. The current downtown land use district on the north would be extended from Oak Street to Ash Street, and downtown land use to the south would be extended from Shoemaker Street to Brady Street.
City Planning Director Dedra Ragland said any change to the land use map would not automatically change the zoning. However, extending the downtown land use district, which allows for more types of uses such as retail, commercial and office uses in addition to residential, could allow more flexibility for property owners.
“We are not saying change the zoning in any form or fashion,” Ragland said. “What we are saying is it may make sense to extend the downtown land use so that the opportunity exists.”
Since the current zoning in the proposed extension areas are single-family residential, if the downtown land use were extended to those areas, any zoning change requests would still have to come before the city council for approval.
The city has also had discussions in the past about the possibility of creating a mixed use district along the Hale Street corridor from U.S. 81/287 on the west to Business U.S. 81/287 on the east. Ragland said she has had property owners in the area ask about the possibility of zoning changes in the area to allow for commercial businesses.
She said she had gotten a variety of feedback about a proposed change from property owners in the area.
“I had a couple of folks who said maybe west of Trinity Street is where there should be a mixed use corridor along Hale Street, maybe not east of Trinity. A couple of folks said if it is going to look like FM 51, west of U.S. 81/287, they didn’t want it to happen. I had a couple of property owners say they were ambivalent to the whole process as long as their property taxes weren’t impacted. So there is a wide range of interest,” she said.
The proposed corridor would possibly extend to Collins Street on the north to Saunders Street to the south.
The council and planning and zoning commission indicated they were interested in having town hall meetings regarding both the downtown land use extension and the creation of a Hale Street mixed use corridor in order to get citizens feedback and to answer questions.
Ragland also discussed the possibility of extending the city’s land use map into the extraterritorial jurisdiction (ETJ). She said the subject came up when the engineering firm Kimley Horn worked with the city on updating its water and sewer master plan. Kimley Horn asked what the city saw as future land use outside the city limits to help with their calculations.
A proposed map shows the majority of the land use in the ETJ as low density residential, but some areas, such as along major thoroughfares such as U.S. 380, U.S. 81/287 and Farm Road 51, shows commercial land use.
Areas in the southeast portion of the city’s ETJ near the current industrial park would also be identified as an industrial area on the map.
Mayor Martin Woodruff said it’s a little more challenging trying to come up with land use outside of the city limits.
“People may own large swaths of land out there that are still in farm or ag use, and they aren’t sure what is going to happen 20 or 30 years from now, so all we can do is make our best guess,” he said.
CITY COUNCIL MEETING
In the city council meeting that followed the workshop, the council approved Jake Long’s request on behalf of J&S Wood Investments to change the zoning of 28.64 acres of land on Business U.S. 380 from single family-1 to thoroughfare business. Ragland said the applicant is planning on building an Orscheln Farm and Home retail business at the location.
In other business, the council approved the reappointment of Mark Duncum, Ray Cook and Dana Manoushagian to the Decatur Hospital Authority Board for a two-year term to expire Dec. 31, 2019.