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Senator Millar weighs in on Dunwoody’s enforcement of building codes

Today, Senator Fran Millar weighed in on the City of Dunwoody’s building code enforcement issue. He sent an email to me and Councilman Nall. Senator Millar asked the Legislative Counsel at the Gold Dome to opine about this matter. (Click here to read their opinion.) The opinion expressed by Legislative Counsel and Senator Millar are the same as mine. The email exchange (copied below) is interesting and speaks for itself.  Thank you, Senator Millar, for standing up for the children and home owners of Dunwoody.

From: Fran Millar <>
Date: April 19, 2017 at 9:58:31 AM EDT
To: “Jester, Nancy” <>, Terry Nall
Cc: Dick Williams;Tom Taylor
Subject: Fwd: Governmental Zoning Immunity

Here you go -sounds like city has authority on permits, trees, etc. but not zoning. Fran

From: “Jester, Nancy” <>
Date: April 19, 2017 at 10:06:02 AM EDT
To: Fran Millar
Cc: Terry Nall, Dick Williams, Tom Taylor
Subject: Re: Governmental Zoning Immunity
Thanks Fran. This is exactly what county lawyers and my attorney have been telling me all along. Unfortunately, the city has yet to respond to me. It’s ironic that you can get a legal opinion from the state quicker than the city can figure this out. I hope that I do not need to take further action to get the city to enforce its own laws. The safety of children and the property values of all the city are at risk as long as the city continues to shirks its responsibility. Let’s hope the city quickly adjusts course.

On Apr 19, 2017, at 10:12 AM, Terry Nall wrote:

Unfortunately this opinion doesn’t address that a city “must” be the permitting entity or whether a formal city permit is needed at all by the school district, provided the applicable Codes are followed by the school district, whether through city offices, county offices, or through school district’s own staff, such as an internal fire marshal.
That’s really the question and has been all along.
-Terry Nall

Jester, Nancy
10:21 AM (7 hours ago)

to Terry, Fran, Dick, Tom

If the city treats the school district differently as a property owner then the city is not uniformly enforcing its own laws. That will lead to some interesting legal entanglements. Also, the school district does not have an internal Fire Marshal. I confirmed this with Chief Fullum yesterday. The gentleman that you are referring to is titled a “specialist”. Chief Fullum also confirmed for me that Georgia law does not give the authority to a school district to have a Fire Marshal. That is a “supplementary power” and is exclusive to counties and cities.

And the question remains, why would the city not want to enforce their own laws to the fullest extent possible? Why would the city not want to ensure to its maximum ability that children are safe and property values protected?

On Apr 19, 2017, at 10:23 AM, Fran Millar <> wrote:

Who else would do the permitting in the city limits? DeKalb does it for schools in the unincorporated area. Don’t understand why the city won’t do this on behalf of the community? Better compliance and safety improvement is one reason we created the city.

From: “Jester, Nancy” <>
Date: April 19, 2017 at 10:29:38 AM EDT
To: Fran Millar <>
Cc: “TerryNall “, Dick Williams, Tom Taylor
Subject: Re: Governmental Zoning Immunity

I’m with you Fran. This is quite perplexing.

On Apr 19, 2017, at 10:36 AM, Terry Nall wrote:

I think you missed the point.

City works with school district whenever possible, such as making its initial plan reviews, etc. The school district then doesn’t complete the process with the city, but it’s not clear it does or doesn’t mean the district doesn’t MUST continue the process with the city versus its other avenues to comply. That’s the question and what Dunwoody follows is consistent with other jurisdictions outside DeKalb.

The “MUST” requirement is the pending question and it’s up to the city staff and legal to opine on it. City attorneys confirm the city is compliant, but we’re looking for their written opinion on it. There are too many fingers in the pie here. Let the appropriate people do their job.


From: Fran Millar <>
Date: April 19, 2017 at 10:47:46 AM EDT
To: Terry Nall
Cc: Nancy Jester <>, Dick Williams, Tom Taylor
Subject: Re: Governmental Zoning Immunity

Are you telling me the city said okay to cut down the trees and put trailers on top of the road? It seems to me the city should be proactive on behalf of its citizens versus sitting by and letting this type behavior continue. Sorry but I think your position on this is indefensible. Can’t agree on everything. Also not impressed with your outside legal advice on this and some other issues. They have been wrong before.

1 Comment

  1. Kirk Lunde says:

    “Temporary educational facilities must meet all applicable state and local building codes and must have a separate certificate of occupancy for each building.”

Comments are closed.

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