The Winder City Council, on Tuesday, Sept. 10, unanimously passed a resolution signaling its support for locally-established building design standards for residential dwellings, a topic that has been a hot-button issue among the state legislature.

Two bills were introduced in Georgia’s General Assembly earlier this year that aimed to prevent local governments from regulating "building design elements." The bills, House Bill 302 and Senate Bill 172, didn't pass, but will come back up when the legislature convenes its 2020 session in January.

The state's homebuilders’ association supported the legislation, calling home design regulations "burdensome."

"Both bills remove a local government's ability to enact burdensome design restrictions on new homes," the association said. "Both bills respect a local government's ability to shape the look and feel of their community through all other zoning conditions and local amendments to the state building code."

But the Georgia Municipal Association, which lobbies for the state's towns and cities, strongly opposed taking away local government powers to regulate residential design codes. The association encouraged its members to adopt resolutions to oppose the legislation and to lobby their local representatives and senators against it.

"A big win this year for Georgia's local governments was the defeat of the House and Senate bills that would have prohibited local governments from adopting design standards for residential homes," the GMA said. "These bills would have taken away the right of citizens to decide the look and feel of their communities."

The Winder council, along with the Auburn City Council and the Barrow County Board of Commissioners all passed similar resolutions in February and March in opposition to the bills, and the resolution the Winder council passed Tuesday in support of locally-established standards had similar language.

“Local community partners support the use of building design standards to protect property values, attract high quality builders and block incompatible development,” the resolution passed Tuesday read in part. “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.”

As a result of the debate over the proposed legislation, the state created a study committee on the issue. That committee is supposed to schedule hearings around the state in the coming months.

OTHER BUSINESS

In other business Tuesday, the council:

•approved a contract of more than $930,000 with Harrison and Harrison, Inc. for the Highway 11/Apalachee River Bridge water and natural gas line relocation project. The relocation is in conjunction with the bridge’s relocation planned by the Georgia Department of Transportation.

•approved an agreement with ESG Engineering to complete a Highway 53 water plant upgrade schematic design and treatability study as the city hopes to expand treatment capacity at the plant from 6.2 to 9.2 million gallons per day. The cost of the agreement will not exceed $178,000 and the work is expected to take four months to complete.

•approved a facility encroachment agreement in the amount of $8,300 with CSX for the installation of new water and natural gas lines under the railroad as part of the West Winder Bypass relocation project.

•approved an event permit for the annual Winder-Barrow High School homecoming parade, set for 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 24. The parade will begin at Holly Hill Mall proceeding north on McNeal Road, turning right onto West Candler Street, left onto Greenvalley Drive, right onto Langford Street, right onto North Fifth Avenue, right onto Marion Street and right into the W. Clair Harris Stadium parking lot. Street closures will occur along the route.

•approved an event permit for the 2019 Toy Trot 5K, which will be held Saturday, Nov. 23, from 8-9 a.m. The 5K will begin and end at Peoples Equity Partners, 58 West Candler St.

Mike Buffington contributed to this story.

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