The Side Yard Acquisition Program provides an opportunity for property owners adjacent to a vacant lot that has city liens on it to purchase the property (side yard) “as is”. Individuals may widen driveways, landscape, garden, or fence the property.

ZONING ORDINANCE COMPLIANCE: According to Zoning Ordinance 3512 as amended:, accessory structures including, but not limited to, gazebos, garages, car ports, etc. are not permitted on the side yard property unless the property is replatted. Certain restrictions apply to driveways. Please refer to Zoning Ordinance 3512 as amended. You can access the Zoning Ordinances on the City’s website HERE. If you have questions regarding the ordinance, please call the City of Decatur, Planning & Zoning Division at 217-424-2781. Also, the side yard cannot be used for parking vehicles unless the property has been replatted and paved with an improved parking surface.

REPLATTING PROPERTY: Applicants, at their expense, may go to a surveyor or engineer to get the property surveyed and replatted. The surveyor/engineer will submit the new plat to the Planning Division, Economic and Urban Development Department, City of Decatur for approval.

SIDE YARD ACQUISITION APPLICATIONS are available in the Neighborhood Inspections Division of the Economic & Urban Development Department. The interested applicant completes the application which includes researching the status of the side yard property at the Macon County Office Building. The completed application is reviewed and a determination will be made whether or not the acquisition process can proceed.

PROPERTY TAXES: You should be aware that property taxes that have accrued, but are not due and owing at the time the property is acquired by the City of Decatur, will have to be paid by you. The City of Decatur will not be able to proceed with the acquisition if there are back taxes to be redeemed.

TITLE WORK: If Neighborhood Inspections sends the applicant a Letter of Recommendation to Proceed with Side Yard Application, the applicant—at his/her own expense—must obtain title work on the property. The cost of title work may vary, but averages between $225 and $250. The fee covers abstracting and a preliminary premium. The title work is drawn up in the name of the City of Decatur or its assignee. After the title work has been completed, the information is forwarded to the Economic and Urban Development Department, Neighborhood Inspections Division, for processing.

The City of Decatur Legal Department makes a determination based upon the title work concerning the probability of acquiring a Deed in Lieu of Foreclosure or a Foreclosure. The necessary petitions are prepared by our legal staff on behalf of the City of Decatur. A determination may be made that the property cannot be acquired by the City of Decatur. At that time, the interested party will be notified and the process will end.

TIME FRAME: Please be advised that acquiring a side yard may take anywhere from six (6) to twelve (12) months. After acquiring the deed, a notice in writing must be presented to the Macon County Clerk, Macon County Supervisor of Assessments, Macon County Treasurer and the Macon County States Attorneys Office to have current tax liens forfeited. The new property owner is responsible for any tax amounts not forfeited at the date of “Closing”.

ADDITIONAL COSTS: In addition to the title work cost (paid for by applicant), the City of Decatur charges the applicant a fee of $250.00 for any and all labor and court costs charged to the City of Decatur. This fee will not be due until the transfer of the property occurs.

NO GUARANTEE OF ACQUISITION: There is no guarantee that the City of Decatur will acquire the property as it proceeds through the courts. While it would be very unusual for the City not to get legal title, it could happen. If it does, you will still be responsible for the cost of title work.

If you have any questions, please call either Neighborhood Standards Officer Michael Swartz or Jerry Carr at 217-424-2783 between the hours of 8:00-8:30 a.m. and 4:00-5:00 p.m. or Bernie Bartus between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. at 424-2700.