Fayetteville’s city council members say they will sit on a proposal to tighten new home design standards for at least a couple of months.
Authored chiefly by Brian Wismer, the city’s director of Community Development, the proposal attracted criticism Thursday night from a few developers, three of whom voiced their concerns at the meeting. The ordinance amendment was first discussed publicly at a city council meeting in November, and it was on track to be approved Thursday night.
Representing Home Builders Association of Midwest Georgia, Roch deGolian asked city council members to table the new legislation until builders had time to give the city more input.
“It’s not thought through well enough at this time,” deGolian said.
One of the key components of the ordinance amendment was language that would have required builders to generally use the same materials all the way around a house. Instead of building the commonly-used brick front facades on otherwise wooden houses, builders would have to choose one or the other and stick with it all the way around.
As well, an amended ordinance would have required builders to avoid the increasingly common practice of building lots of ornate front windows while installing what amounts to a few glass-filled square holes around the rest of the exterior.
On that last point, deGolian countered that builders might be tempted to then build very plain fronts so they could better afford to keep up that design around the whole of the house.
After Thursday’s meeting, Wismer said he is glad to have at least gotten the discussion started. He said his efforts are reflective of not just City Hall sentiment but also of concerns shared by building industry professional around the country.
The net effect of having too-loose design standards, says Wismer, is that communities are stuck well into the future with housing inventory that looks poorly designed.
“If these basic measures are implemented, the City’s housing inventory henceforth is more likely to be recognized as superior in quality and unique compared to other communities with whom we compete,” Wismer wrote in a memo to the mayor and council members. “This can, in turn, contribute to higher demand and more sustainable home values over the long term and will raise the bar for all future development.”
Mayor Greg Clifton, who led the council to table the ordinance amendments for now, said he would like to see the city’s staff and elected officials mull over the issue and discuss it further at their February planning retreat. It would potentially resurface at a subsequent city council meeting for future public hearings.