Georgia city and county leaders reject two bills they say threaten local control

A pair of bills making their way through the state legislature drew the ire of leaders in several counties as well as cities of Dunwoody and Johns Creek this week.

The two city councils took issue with House Bill 302 and its senate companion Senate Bill 172. According to council members, these two bills would limit local control when it comes to zoning.

Both city councils voted unanimously Monday night to oppose the bills, saying they would prevent local governments from enforcing and regulating building design elements for residential homes.

Dunwoody Council Member Lynn Deutsch introduced the resolution requesting that the General Assembly oppose the bill.

“We do not take this decision lightly. Most housing in the City of Dunwoody would be impacted by this,” said Deutsch. “This is an issue of local control. We have set minimum building standards that protect the safety of our residents and enhance the quality of construction.”

HB 302 was introduced by Georgia State Rep. Vance Smith, a Republican from Pine Mountain. The Senate companion bill is SB 172 and was sponsored by John Wilkinson, a republican from Toccoa.

Dunwoody Council Member Pam Tallmadge encouraged concerned residents to e-mail lawmakers who are backing the bill.

“This is an encroachment that is unbelievable to me,” added Dunwoody Mayor Denis Shortal. “We became a city to keep decisions close to home. This bill strips us of the rights to keep Dunwoody the way the citizens want it.”

The bill would not apply to state or federal historic districts, mobile homes, or homes governed by an HOA or neighborhood covenants. However, it would prevent cities from upholding and enforcing several types of zoning standards including exterior building color, style of materials of roof structures or porches, architectural ornamentation, the number and types of rooms, the interior layout of rooms and the types of foundation structures approved under state minimum standards codes.

The legislation would not apply to state or federal historic districts, mobile homes or homes governed by a neighborhood associations or covenants.

“One of the reasons Johns Creek residents voted to become a city was to set consistent and quality building standards appropriate for our exceptional community,” said Johns Creek Mayor Mike Bodker. “We strongly believe in upholding established minimum building standards and HB302/SB172 would limit a city’s ability to protect its residents and may jeopardize the character, sense of place, and sought after quality of life we’ve worked so hard to establish in Johns Creek.”

The bill has also been opposed by Oconee, Cobb, and Forsyth Counties as well as the mayor of Lilburn.

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