A possible building code change to require “higher-quality” apartment construction in Sandy Springs is moving ahead after a June 21 City Council vote. A state review and a final council vote are still required.

The proposed change would require apartment buildings over three stories tall or over 100,000 square feet in size to be constructed with steel and masonry rather than wood framing.

Current code—which also includes hotels and condos—allows wood-framing up to four stories, or five stories if the building has a fire sprinkler system, and steel and masonry for taller structures.

The move to reduce wood-framed, or “stick-built,” apartments began last fall with advocacy for “high-quality” construction from such community leaders as Trisha Thompson, president of the Sandy Springs Council of Neighborhoods. One reason is simply better-looking and longer-lasting buildings.

At the City Council meeting, Fire Rescue Chief Keith Sanders said it will improve fire safety, since stick-built housing is more flammable. The change would “greatly reduce the risk of fire spreading so rapidly in the apartment complexes,” he said.

Steel and masonry also costs more, which Mayor Rusty Paul said might discourage infill apartment housing in the city’s “protected neighborhoods” of old-school suburban single-family homes.

The council approved sending the code change to the state Department of Community Affairs, which oversees building codes, for review. Assistant City Manager Jim Tolbert said it may return to the council for full adoption in September.