Thursday, March 6, 2014

Dunwoody Building Code Point & Counterpoint

The next City Council meeting on March 10 will include discussion on building ordinance changes.

Let's see if the link to SIRE on the city's website works.

Bottom line, the proposal on the table is to guarantee that any building over 3 stories tall must be built with fireproof materials (concrete, steel, etc).  Anyone who has seen a news report with an apartment fire in DeKalb County can see the logic here.  This type of construction is supposed to slow the decline in value that apartments always seem to face.

Counterpoint:  the construction industry is not too happy with this.
In a recent Constant Contact mail, the Council for Quality Growth spelled out their opposition to this requirement.  Essentially it would make construction of apartments and similar sites prohibitively expensive to build.

The incentive for this amendment came out of the plans for the "senior living" apartments presented to the DHA on Sunday.  The representatives stated outright that their complex is to be "stick built" - that is with wood, rather than concrete/steel.

Some random thoughts:

Check out the comments in the link to the DHA meeting above.  Interesting point that "Dunwoody doesn't want apartments - unless it's built for seniors, then that's OK."  Not the first time we've seen plans edited because "Well, we want plans that accommodate my lifestyle and choices, but not for anyone else."  Don't get me started down that road.  Any council member who talks out of both sides of their mouth on any part of the municipal code is playing with fire come election time.

To the Council for Quality Growth and its friends:  Dunwoody incorporated because so many apartments were being thrown up (so to speak) and the homeowners felt their quality of life threatened.  Many long time Dunwoodians don't want to see more apartments built in this city.  Take. The. Hint.

I've been hearing about the "high demand" for these types of developments from different directions.   Does anyone have any numbers to back that up?

Now you know the issues and the players.  If you have something to say, you know where to be on March 10.


Max said...

I fully believe that government, Dunwoody or otherwise, should keep their mitts off of private sector developments.

That said, groups like Council for Quality Growth shill for development, but who speaks for the 'poor ol' cash taxpayer? City Councilor Terry Nall and Mayor Davis both campaigned on the reality of current zoning and future apartment development.

While some called for ineffective 'impact fees' to curtail 'Tomorrow's tenements - Today,' both Nall and Davis recognized the only way to truly control the quality of future and lawfully zoned apartment development is to raise the 'barrier of entry' for apartment builders. By substantially increasing the cost per unit, far more than an impact fee can accomplish, we can control apartment quality.

This is the next best alternative to the outright, but illegal, ban on apartments.

The Zoning Re-Write was unable to fully address this matter, as SDOC and I witnessed, thus the proposed changes to Chapter 8 - Building Code shown here:

Some say the currently contemplated 4 story senior development should be included in this update, and I agree.
But then who is to say the developer doesn't already plan a high-finish exterior?

Finally, SDOC, a well built 55+ community is a home run due to the demographics of Boomers and the human desire to be 'near the kids.'

"With over $2.3 trillion
in disposable income,
seniors are a force to
be reckoned with. "

If only Dunwoody could accommodate Gary Ray Betz's high idea to aerate the premises . . .

SDOC Publishing Internet Solutions said...

Max! I was hoping you would chime in on this one. Thanks for leaving your thoughts!

Kerry de Vallette said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kerry de Vallette said...

Sorry I wasn't able to attend the DHA meeting the other night.

I agree with Max's points. What I am concerned with here are some comments I heard and some which have appeared in other blogs that will try to turn this conversation into a socio-economics debate. This is a private sector venture (someone's capital is at risk) and not Habitat build.

We the citizens, along with our government, have a responsibility to all citizens to maintain and impart community standards that its' citizens have invested in, maintained, and built upon over generations to those that seek to be a part of the community they find so desirable to join.

Chip said...

I guess Mr. DeVallette doesn't recognize that the "private sector" operates within the boundaries of Dunwoody, which has both a "private sector" and a "property (home) owners'" sector whose wants and needs must be balanced in a municipal setting.

The question was raised specifically in regard to "equal treatment" of high-quality multi-family vs. high quality senior (55+) residences. What would the rationale be for giving 55+ renters preferential treatment (if at all?). The only known differential would be the impact of school-age children.

Kerry de Vallette said...

Chip / Greg - the private sector always always acts within the bounds of the current government (those empowered to represent at various levels of government), which adjusts its codes, ordinances, etc., based on those in power at the time. As far as it being "balanced", that's in the eye of the beholder.

Chip said...

Mr. DeVallette: Far from having the cynical view of government you express, I don't believe that standards and such are wholly dependent upon "those in power at the time." No government is successful and stable that runs rough-shod over previous actions based on personal whim and fancy.

Balance may be "in the eye of the beholder" but who is the "beholder". You use a lot of quips and buzz-words, but don't answer the questions nor provide any substance to the discussion.

Kerry de Vallette said...

Greg - what's the correct/fair/balanced ratio of multifamily housing units to single family homes for a City the size of Dunwoody - for a city of 12 square miles and existing infrastructure? What's fair? Who says what fair is? Who determines what "equal treatment" means? Who determines what "balanced" is and what data is used to make that determination. Are all those definitions carved in stone, or are they subject to the winds of the economy/market and politics? Bottom line answer - each potential project lives or dies on its own merits at the time they arise and go through the then established vetting process.

See there. No attempt, as you suggest, to introduce "class struggles", NIMBY, or any other socio economic labels as you so desperately appear to want to introduce into this conversation. But I suspect that anyone who disagrees with "Chip" will be made aware of just how wrong they are about that too. I suspect my response lacks the substance to contribute to the conversation in your opinion.

Now it's your turn. Tell us "Chip", tell us. What's the right answer?