HAMPTON – The Hampton City Council joined a group of local governments opposing a bill that would limit their ability to set design standards on local dwellings.
House Bill 302, which was introduced last year and remains in play under the Gold Dome this legislative session, and Senate Bill 172 would prohibit local governments from regulating “building design elements” on single-family or two-family dwellings.
The Georgia Municipal Association and the Association County Commissioners of Georgia have both come out opposing the proposals. The Henry County Board of Commissioners formally opposed the move at its Jan. 7 meeting, and the Stockbridge City Council made its opposition known at its Monday meeting.
The item was requested by Mayor Steve Hutchison, who expressed concern that the city would have “no input” on what could be built and what couldn’t if HB 302 passed in the General Assembly.
City Manager Alex Cohilas spoke of his experience with lobbyists associated with homebuilders across the state, after he called for a tougher sprinkler ordinance during his time as the Clayton County fire chief.
“We suffered multiple deaths in a hotel fire in Riverdale,” Cohilas said. “In response, I introduced a series of changes to toughen the sprinklers ordinance. The homebuilder’s association rallied in opposition, and a similar bill was passed, that prohibited local jurisdictions from enacting tougher than standards set in the state.”
Cohilas said that if the city did not stand in opposition, it would lose control of its ability to demand higher-quality architecture, the materials used, how many entrances in and out of a subdivision were required, and the like.
“You should protect your right to home rule,” Cohilas said.
“They’re taking away our right to regulate these subdivisions,” said Councilwoman Mary Ann Mitcham. “They’re meddling where they shouldn’t.”