On Dec. 8, the Dunwoody City Council passed building code revisions to make Dunwoody safer. The code changes have met with a degree of controversy and the ire of Mayor Mike Davis. The stricter building codes, opponents say, will have a chilling effect on development in Dunwoody and potentially limit the future construction of multifamily developments in the city.
The council voted 6-1 to adopt the stricter codes, which will require any buildings taller than three stories or larger than 200,000 square feet in gross floor area to be framed with noncombustible material such as metal or concrete. The previous limit was five stories. Mayor Davis criticized the measure, saying that it would “put lipstick on a bunch of pigs,” due to the number of Dunwoody properties available for redevelopment which may now, due to increased construction costs, only be repainted and remodeled instead of razed and redeveloped.
Dunwoody resident Marian Adeimy addressed the council during the public comment, urging them to put the decision on hold. Adeimy spoke both as a citizen and on behalf of the Council for Quality Growth, a development trade association for local developers, contractors, engineers, architects, and building trades professionals. She asked for a delay in order to determine how the code will impact both the community and the development industry in Dunwoody.
Of those who came forward to oppose the measures, Councilor Terry Nall notes that all were from the city’s development community. Nall and Councilor Doug Thompson agree that while the city may lose development contracts, the requirements for higher-grade materials meet the necessary “life safety issues” which are implicit in development efforts. “We don’t need just any development, Thompson says, “we need quality.”
Citing a devastating fire that broke out in Los Angeles this week that destroyed an apartment building and closed the freeway for several hours, Councilor Nall noted that the building’s wood-frame construction undoubtedly added to the level of devastation. Councilor Lynn Deutsch reiterated the need for quality construction in Dunwoody prior to the vote, stating, “It’s not about how I leave Dunwoody the day I leave office, it’s about what I leave for future citizens 20 years from now.”