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Flowery Branch wants to hold onto local building standards
Opposing state legislation that would prevent municipal bans on vinyl siding, one-car garages, short driveways
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Flowery Branch City Council renewed its opposition Thursday night to local governments being restricted in regulating design standards for homes.

The council approved a resolution Nov. 7 that supports “locally established building design standards” but also, in effect, opposes “state legislation eliminating locally tailored approaches to design standards.”

If Flowery Branch couldn’t set and enforce building standards, “that would open us up to vinyl siding, one-car garages, shorter driveways and a lot of things that we’ve come across in the past that we’ve tried to shore up,” city planner Rich Atkinson told the council.

In the last General Assembly, lawmakers proposed House Bill 302, which would have banned governments from adopting or enforcing ordinances or regulations relating to building design elements on single-family homes or duplexes.

The bill, which Flowery Branch opposed in a March resolution, didn’t make the legislature’s Crossover Day, the deadline for bills to pass in one chamber and be sent to the other chamber.

But Kelli Bennett, Georgia Municipal Association spokeswoman, has said she believes special interest groups comprising homebuilders, real estate agents and others “will be advocating for the passage” of the bill next session, which starts in January.

A House study committee on workforce housing “was created to examine barriers to housing,” she said. “Design standards is one element that was identified as a burden to development.”

Flowery Branch’s resolution states that “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.”

Such a restrictive law “would harm self-determination of residents to establish community standards,” the city said.

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