The Barrow County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday rejected a request by the president of the Barrow County Builders Association to immediately reduce the minimum size of new homes in the county.
Association president Tony Trusty said that his group’s request last year for multiple changes to the Unified Development Code have been narrowed down to one — for the county to allow 33 percent of all homes built in new or previously approved subdivisions to be a minimum of 1,400 square feet instead of the current 1,600 square feet.
Trusty called the change a “small step” that would help boost the local building industry stagnated by the national recession that took hold in late 2008.
He said every tradesman put to work would help the local economy by spending his wages at local restaurants and other businesses, and the new houses would generate more tax revenue for the county government due to higher taxable property values.
The BCBA board “can only see a positive come from this, and we ask that you put it to a vote,” he said.
No official action was taken Tuesday night, but several BOC members expressed opposition to the request.
Commissioner Steve Worley pointed out that over the past year, the county had issued only three building permits for houses 1,400 square feet in size, while there are hundreds of approved lots for such homes.
“There’s 360 lots that are buildable right now,” Worley said.
Trusty said some of those lots are not buildable. He also said that in some approved subdivisions, the smaller houses still would have to be built on basements, and many people can’t afford homes with basements.
Worley said even if the 360 figure were cut in half, that would mean there is still a multiple-year supply of available lots for smaller homes.
When Trusty responded Tuesday night that “maybe they are still asking too much for lots,” the audience erupted in laughter.