Council Perspective: Tensions Between Local Control & Streamlined Development Remain Heading into 2019 Legislative Session

With legislators’ attention in this week’s Special Called Session focused on hurricane relief in Southwest Georgia and the jet fuel tax exemption, there was also talk of issues anticipated for 2019 Legislative Session. Two policy areas held over the 2017-2018 legislative session that highlight the tension between local and state government are likely to re-emerge when legislators reconvene in January: taking residential design elements on one- or two-family homes out of the purview of local governments; and permitting fee and timeline requirements for cities and counties.

The Georgia Home Builders Association and other related industry groups have pushed to streamline residential design standard expectations. Their policy proposal would essentially prohibit cities and counties from adopting any regulations on “Building Design Elements,” including exterior building color, style of roof structures, and architectural styling of windows. Local governments would retain the ability to dictate building design elements in historic districts and when the regulations are related to state minimum standard codes or are applied to manufactured housing.

The 2017-2018 FAST Act required cities and counties in Georgia to establish a schedule of fees for licenses and permits for start-up businesses, and – among other things – to adopt timelines necessary for processing applications required for such licenses, permits, and fees. If a county does not meet a published deadline for an associated license or permit, then the fee associated with such license or permit would be reduced by ten percent of the original fee for every ten days that the published deadline is missed. Conversely, a city or county would be required to establish an expedited licensing and permitting process and could charge a fee of no more than two times the fee for the standard license or permit processing timeline. The FAST Act was authored by Senator Mike Dugan (30th), Chairman of the Senate Economic Development & Tourism Committee. On Tuesday, Dugan was elected by the Senate Majority Caucus to serve as Senate Majority Leader in 2019-2020. If these two pieces of legislation are still on Senator Dugan’s “to-do” list, expect there to be a lot of buzz about their renewed viability.

Please contact Taylor Morison, Director of Policy & Government Affairs, if you have any questions or comments at or (980)297-3644.