ATLANTA, Ga. — A state bill that would prevent municipal and county governments from regulating residential building design failed to pass either chamber of the Georgia Legislature.
Neither House Bill 302 nor Senate Bill 172 made it to a floor vote by March 7, or “crossover day,” when bills generally must pass through one chamber to move forward this year.
The bills would have prohibited local governments from adopting or enforcing ordinances or regulations relating to building designs, such as color, material, roof shape or window or door style, on one or two-family dwellings.
The bill includes a few exceptions, such as homes located within a historic district. It would also allow the regulation of home design through private covenants, such as home owners associations.
Proponents of the bill argued homeowners should have the freedom to design their home to their style, while opponents said it took power away from cities and could destroy the aesthetics of neighborhoods.
“This is a very dangerous precedent that they’re setting to home rule and to our ability to control the look and feel of our community,” Johns Creek Mayor Mike Bodker said.
Alpharetta, Johns Creek, Milton and Forsyth County passed resolutions opposing the bill. The Georgia Municipal Association, a group that lobbies on behalf of Georgia’s cities, also opposed the bill.
“It could be disastrous, I think in my mind, if this does pass,” Milton Councilman Matt Kunz said. “Because right now, the government that governs local governs best. I think that we do a pretty could job here in Milton and I would hate to see that go away.”
Alpharetta Councilman Donald Mitchell said if these bills pass, anyone could build a house constructed of cheap materials right next to homes with brick or stone.
He issued a message to the Legislature: “Pay attention to your citizens and do what we want instead of what you’re getting paid from the lobbyists to do.”
Rep. Chuck Martin, a Republican who represents parts of Alpharetta and Johns Creek, serves on the House Rules committee, where the legislation was stalled. He said he was adamantly opposed to the bill.
“HB 302 seeks to preempt local zoning ordinances that have been adopted by local governments in House District 49 and around the state, ordinances that protect our neighborhood home values,” Martin said. “I have vocally expressed that opposition in my questioning of the author of HB 302 in the House Rules Committee on Feb. 27 and will continue my opposition there, and as needed on the House Floor.”