SANDY SPRINGS, GA — A bill that would ban local governments from regulating the kind of materials builders can use when constructing facilities has moved forward in the Georgia General Assembly. House Bill 876, which prohibits local governments from banning the use of wood as construction material, passed the Georgia House of Representatives on Thursday.
The bill, which passed with a vote of 125-43, is now being read in the Georgia Senate. The legislation has been criticized by the city of Sandy Springs, specifically Mayor Rusty Paul.
As readers recall, the City Council in 2016 passed an ordinance to require any new building over three stories and exceeding 100,000 square feet be constructed with so-called "noncombustible materials" such as steel or concrete. The city’s change came months after two separate apartment fires displaced several residents and injured at least two children.
Paul, who initially referred to these type of residential structures as "stick-built" units, blasted legislators for taking action on an issue that should be left up to local governments to decide.
"It’s disconcerting to have state lawmakers work to unroll requirements which are designed to protect loss of life for not only our residents, but the fire safety personnel who will be at added risk," he added in a statement. "This was a local decision made based on the needs of our community and should remain under local purview."
The legislation under consideration prohibits striking the use of wood as a construction material "so long as such use conforms to all 16 applicable state minimum standard codes and the Georgia State Fire Code." It’s being sponsored by John Corbett (R-Lake Park), Chad Nimmer (R-Blackshear), Jay Powell (R-Camilla), Terry England (R-Auburn), Tom McCall (Elberton) and Dominic LaRiccia (R-Douglas), all of whom are from small communities.
State representatives serving all or parts of Sandy Springs voted against the measure, including State Rep. Deborah Silcox, State Rep. Meagan Hanson and State Rep. Wendell Willard.
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