The Peachtree City Council on Thursday rejected an ordinance that would dictate the colors residents can use to paint their houses, but may revisit the issue later. PHOTO: Jill Howard Church for the AJC

Peachtree City shuts down plan letting government choose house colors

Peachtree City won’t have a say in what colors residents paint their houses — for now.

Officials on Thursday unanimously rejected an ordinance that would have restricted paint choices for homes in the Fayette County city. The proposed law would have restricted color choices to earth tones or low reflecting paints opposed to bright hues or fluorescents.

But Peachtree City Councilmembers said they need to tread lightly on making such sweeping legislation.

“Even though you can do something, it doesn’t mean you have to do something,” said Councilman Kevin Madden. “I just don’t think this was the first salvo we should have fired on this very important issue.”

Councilman Terry Ernst agreed. “Are we going to tell you what color you can paint your house? That’s not what I was elected to do,” he said.

City Manager Jon Rorie, who proposed the restrictions, said the measure is part of a bigger issue for the planned community — the expiration of covenants across the city’s subdivisions that oversee how neighborhoods look. The average home in Peachtree City is 30 years old and many of the covenants that governed paint colors, how lots are to be divided and even tree placement have or are coming to an end. That could lead to a free-for-all on what landowners do with their lots, which is anathema to Peachtree City’s mission, Rorie said.

“We are not utopia,” Rorie said repeatedly in remarks explaining the rationale behind his proposal. “We are not Xanadu. But we aspire to be.”

He later said he was willing to table the proposal and fine tune it for a later presentation after hearing from residents worried about its impact.

“I get it,” he said. “This is slippery slope stuff.”

A handful of citizens who attended the meeting worried how such a rule would be implemented and who would judge what colors are appropriate and what colors are not.

Debra Gallup said she lives in one of the subdivisions whose covenant has expired. Her house is painted light gray house with bright blue shutters.

“I went by another house and saw that and thought it was absolutely beautiful,” she said of her shutters. “I don’t know if those colors are going to be offensive. Am I going to have to take this down? Or do I have grandfather rights?

“And if there is only one person making these decisions on what colors we get to have, I have a problem with that also,” she said.

Ralph Hale asked if the city would subsidize the repainting of houses that violate a paint ordinance and what how enforcement would be executive.

“Would you need to get a permit to repaint your house?” he said. “Is there going to be someone who comes around through all the neighborhoods after this is passed to say, ‘Your house does not fit?’