Local governments fight limits on controlling how homes look

December 21, 2019 GMT

EVANS, Ga. (AP) — Local governments in Georgia are renewing their fight against proposals limiting their ability to control the look of new homes.

Columbia County and Grovetown are among localities that have passed resolutions opposing the restrictions, The Augusta Chronicle reported.

The action is in response to bills that would prohibit counties and cities from determining building requirements such as layouts, color schemes and materials used for certain single- and double-family residences.

The bills did not pass in the General Assembly last year. But a recent House study committee reported that lawmakers should bar “unnecessary aesthetic restrictions” including requirements about the color of a house, whether vinyl siding can be used, the style of roofs and porches and how garage doors and other openings are placed.

“Government must protect the private property rights of Georgians, not take them away,” the report states. “Home builders report compliance with these onerous zoning conditions can add $10,000, $20,000, even $30,000 to the price of a new home.”

North Carolina, Texas and Arkansas have passed limits on local controls over housing appearance in recent years, the report said.

The Association of County Commissioners of Georgia wants cities and counties to pass resolutions opposing restrictions. In 2017, Georgia passed a bill that says local governments can’t ban wood as a building material.

“That affordable housing study committee is a cover for this particular (legislation)” Columbia County Manager Scott Johnson said. “I don’t know that affordable housing and local designs are hand-in-hand but they believe that they are. (The bills are) coming back this year. We are prepared with the ACCG to fight it.”