By Tia Lynn Ivey, Managing Editor
Madison City officials are sending state legislators a message to scrap a bill that would dictate uniform building codes across the State of Georgia. The proposed bill has City of Madison leaders, a local governments across the state, worried about the erosion of local control. The Madison Mayor and City Council unanimously passed a resolution at the Dec. 9 regular meeting opposing House Bill 302, which aims to establish statewide building and design codes to which local governments cannot add.
“It would preclude the city from passing any kind of design standards that are beyond the minimum building code for the state of Georgia in residential areas,” explained City Manager David Nunn. “Historic Districts are exempted from this bill, but for residential areas, the state would set the standards and local governments could not require higher standards than that. That could cause a lot of problems down the road.”
Nunn said the bill would “enforce the lowest common denominator” for every community in Georgia.
“We have to remember that what works best for Atlanta doesn’t always work best for Madison,” said Nunn.
According to the resolution, the City of Madison is opposing House Bill 302 to ensure residential dwellings “reflect the character of the community” and have a “positive impact on economic development efforts and competitiveness.”
According to the resolution, the city wants control over “appropriate local design standards and land use policies, established by local citizens in each community, create a diverse, stable, profitable, and sustainable residential development landscape.”
City officials believe that a statewide blanket building codes for residential dwellings that cannot be amended by local governments would have a negative impact on diverse communities with diverse priorities and needs.
“State legislation eliminating locally-tailored approaches to design standards would harm self- determination of citizens to establish community standards; and local community partners support the use of building design standards to protect property values, attract high quality builders, and block incompatible development,” said the resolution. “Building design standards assure residents and business owners that their investments will be protected, and that others who come behind them will be equally committed to quality. Local business leaders value the studying, surveying, crafting, and defining of a community vision and development strategies, and recognize design standards as an integral part of those endeavors to attract residents, businesses, and the much-coveted trained workforce. Development and redevelopment efforts should reflect the community and its vision while simultaneously creating a sense of place imperative for attracting new economic prospects.”
City leaders believe the new bill would infringe upon elected officials responsibilities and duly-earned duties to the public.
“Local officials are elected to make decisions about the look and feel of their communities, and local business owners recognize the need for their elected officials to be empowered to enforce building design standards to make today’s thriving community areas tomorrow’s historic districts,” said the resolution. “Citizens’ ability to continue to set community values and local elected officials to enforce building design standards for attached and detached housing, for the purposes of economic growth and the safety and welfare of the citizens of Georgia and in particular the citizens of Madison, Georgia.”
The bill will be brought before the Georgia General Assembly in early 2020 to be reviewed, debated, negotiated in committee, and then possibly voted upon during the next legislative session.