Dunwoody Mayor Denis Shortal wrote letters to state Sen. Fran Millar and state Rep. Tom Taylor urging them to oppose a House bill that would eliminate restrictions on constructing wood-frame apartments.

In 2014, Dunwoody approved an ordinance requiring commercial, office, apartment or condominium buildings more than three stories tall or more than 200,000 square feet to be framed with noncombustible materials, such as metal and/or concrete. But House Bill 876, sponsored by state Rep. John Corbett (R-Lake Park), would wipe out Dunwoody’s ordinance, as well as a similar ordinance in Sandy Springs.

“This bill would preempt local governments from regulating wood as a construction material if state minimum standards are met,” Shortal said in letters to Millar and Taylor. Both are Republicans from Dunwoody.

“HB 876 strips the Dunwoody City Council from considering the welfare of our citizens in respect to the quality of products used in construction; specifically multi-level residential housing,” Shortal stated. “Holding contractors to higher standards and requiring better materials in construction just makes common sense when lives are at risk.”

Sandy Springs held a March 2 press conference to denounce House Bill 876. The bill is a battleground of construction material lobbies, as the timber industry reportedly had a big influence on its filing, and the press conference was organized by the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association, whose Georgia chapter is based in Sandy Springs.

“This bill promotes higher corporate profits at the risk of public safety,” Shortal stated in his letters to Taylor and Millar. “Those supporting this bill have the voice to speak out on its advantages while those affected the most do not have that same voice.”

Dyana Bagby

Dyana Bagby is a staff writer for Reporter Newspapers and Atlanta Intown.