While other cities are flaunting their new wood skyscrapers, a suburb of Atlanta is prohibiting all future wood-frame building taller than three stories and larger than 100,000 square feet, such as apartment buildings.
The Sandy Springs lawmakers question the longevity, quality and safety of wood structures compared to those made of steel and concrete. Sandy Springs, Georgia is an upper middle class suburb of Atlanta with a median family income of $100,679 in 2013.
The American Wood Council and Georgia Forestry Association objected, saying wood construction was more sustainable and that adoption of the ordinance could hurt the industry.
Using wood helps keep costs in time and material down for contractors, allowing development in areas where the demand for housing is high. Some developers say the new law means they will no longer view Sandy Springs as a viable place for further development of apartments.
Others note that wood multifamily housing is cheap, noisey, and the lower rents don't support reasonable facility upkeep.
Mayor Rusty Paul said wood continues to be widely used in local construction. “I know how important wood products are for the state and region,” he said, “but this change is not going to result in long-term damage” to Georgia’s lumber industry.