ALPHARETTA, Ga. — Three months before the 2020 Legislative Session begins, Alpharetta city leaders have alerted local delegates of their opposition to any legislation aimed at weakening county and city building standards.

In a resolution that passed unanimously Oct. 7, the City Council officially blasted two pieces of pending legislation that calls for prohibiting local governments from regulating building design elements for one- or two-family dwellings.

The legislation is carried in House Bill 302 and Senate Bill 172 up for consideration in the upcoming session. Each bill carries exemptions for certain structures located within historic districts or designated as historic landmarks. They also allow for certain accepted safety standards for certain housing, such as manufactured homes.

“Alpharetta would not be the place that it is today if we and previous councils and previous staffs did not have design standards,” Councilman Donald Mitchell said. “It wouldn’t be nearly as nice.

The bills specifically prohibit cities and counties from establishing requirements related to type, style or color of exterior material; style or materials of roofs or porches; the style of windows and doors; number and layout of rooms; and exterior non-structural architectural ornamentation.

The legislation is being backed by homebuilders and property developers.

One of its key sponsors, State Rep. Vance Smith, R-Pine Mountain, says building regulations remove the decision-making ability of homebuilders and homebuyers. The bills received a chorus of opposition among counties and cities when first introduced last year. Groups like the Georgia Municipal Association, Association County Commissioners of Georgia, and The Georgia Conservancy have also come out against the bills.

The legislation was withdrawn late in the 2019 session but is expected to resurface in 2020.

Mitchell said proponents of the legislation say it will increase opportunities for workforce housing, but that is a false narrative.

“Folks who need subsidized and affordable housing shouldn’t live in substandard homes that are built with substandard building materials,” he said. “To support that is doing an injustice to that social group as well.”

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All politicians at all levels of government have to be very careful about special interest groups like the home builders and real estate lobby. As a candidate myself for Alpharetta's City Council, Post 6, I was recently interviewed by Governmental Affairs Committee of the Atlanta Realtors Association. They were interviewing candidates to determine which ones they were going to support in the upcoming election. They came straight out and said they were looking for candidates that would be active supporters of their positions. When I told them I was running to represent the residents of Alpharetta, not a special interest group I was quickly shown the door and of course I'm not getting their support. Moral is that the voters need to make sure the people they elect will represent them, and not special interest groups.

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