The Dunwoody City Council gave a blistering rebuke to a current legislative attempt to ban local governments from regulating design elements on residential homes, approving a resolution at its Feb. 25 meeting voicing their opposition to another attempt by the the state to strip municipalities of local control.
Mayor Denis Shortal and the council unanimously approved the resolution proposed by Councilmember Lynn Deutsch to voice opposition to House Bill 302 and Senate Bill 172 that would prohibit local governments from adopting or enforcing ordinances to regulate several design elements in one or two-family properties such as color, exterior material, windows, doors, number and type of rooms and foundation materials.
The resolution states, in part, that the bills “would completely remove the City of Dunwoody’s common sense ability of local control to set its own quality standards of single-family homes and may jeopardize the safety and lives of our citizens living and working in densely populated areas of our city.”
“I would think such a bill would be the laughingstock [of the General Assembly], because it is an infringement on our rights,” Shortal said.
Deutsch said she felt the state legislature was becoming “more and more brazen” in recent years in its attempts to strip local control from cities and counties.
“I’m really frustrated by this constant inching into local government,” she said.
She pointed to when the state controversially legalized the sale and use of fireworks in 2015 with few limits on their use, regardless of the noise and fire safety differences between rural, urban and suburban areas. Dunwoody, along with Sandy Springs, also heavily opposed a bill that passed last session that prevents local governments from prohibiting wood-frame apartments, eliminating a city ordinance that had been on the books for years. Sandy Springs is also speaking out against HB 302.
“With local government, you’ll see us at the grocery store or the coffee shop, you’ll run into us at places,” she said. “The further the government gets from the people, the less likely you are to know exactly what your citizens feel.”
The sponsor of the HB 302 is Republican state Rep. Smith Vance of Pine Mountain where Calloway Gardens is located, about 95 miles southwest of Dunwoody. Pine Mountain’s population is roughly 1,500 people compared to Dunwoody’s approximate 50,000 residents.
“We became a city to keep decisions close to home,” Shortal said. “We know what we want. We don’t need the state to tell us. … Please don’t try to push your will on us in Dunwoody, Ga.”
Councilmember Terry Nall called the House Bill “one of our greatest threats” and said the resolution was needed to “protect our communities.”
The resolution will be sent to members of the Dunwoody delegation at the Gold Dome and the city’s lobbyists will also work to fight the bill, Deutsch said.
Councilmember Pam Tallmadge also urged residents to voice their opposition by not only emailing their local lawmakers but the sponsors of both bills as well.
The proposed legislation would not apply to state or federal historic districts, mobile homes or homes governed by a neighborhood associations or covenants. In Dunwoody, however, there are no historic districts and most neighborhoods are not governed by registered and formal HOAs, Deutsch said.