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Protecting Atlanta's Trees

to the neighbors, letting them know that trees will be cut with a more gentle warning than the roar of a chainsaw.

If you see tree cutting without the sign having been posted, first call the City Arborist at the numbers listed above.  Second, call 911 and report a possible violation of Section 158-101 of the City's ordinances.  This may or may not be an actual violation, since Arborist approvals before August 15 do not require the signs.  But, all developers should be able to show the police an approved "tree preservation plan" for their site.  Homeowners should have an approved "tree removal" permit.  (Calling 911 may not yield results but it is worth a try, especially on weekends or holidays.  If it doesn't work, call NBCA President Gordon Certain at 404-231-1192/404-219-2818 or email at

Permits are required to cut any trees six inches or larger at "breast height", with one exception: a homeowner may cut one  "hazardous" tree on their property each year.  Permits to cut "street trees" (trees within 6 feet or so from the public roads) are especially important since it is a
felony to cut them.  We know of two cases where felony charges have been placed.  The City has taken a number of violators to court recently, all for misdemeanors.

3, A task group is being formed to rewrite Atlanta's tree ordinance, much of which could really be improved.

4, The tree preservation ordinance also provides tree/landscaping and curbing standards for new and existing parking lots with 30 or more spaces.  Since 1992, the retroactive provisions for existing parking lots have largely been ignored.  The City appears intent on beginning parking lot enforcement now that its arborist staffing has been beefed up and will probably begin to act early next year.

Correction -- We wrongly said in "Protecting Atlanta's Trees", that hazardous trees may be cut without a City permit.  This is no longer correct.  If ANY tree is 6" thick or more at "breast height", it cannot be legally cut without a City Arborist permit, which can be obtained by calling 404-330-6874 or visiting the Bureau of Buildings at 55 Trinity Ave, SW.

Long-time  residents remember when the Atlanta was famous for its numerous trees.  Times change.  Today, there is a struggle to save as much of the area's remaining tree canopy as possible.  Most folks recognize that this is a good thing to do, since trees help address the area's "heat island" problems and other environmental issues.  Important changes you should know about are happening involving Atlanta's trees.

1, Atlanta has done a great job in strengthening its tree protection staff.  The City had one Arborist/Forester, shared half time between the Buildings and Parks departments.  Now, Buildings has 5 full-time arborists plus a secretary; Parks has a Forester position. The Senior Arborist is
Frank Mobley.  The Arborist covering NE Atlanta is Tom Coffin.  Both can be reached at 404-330-6874 & fax 404-658-6979.

2, A new ordinance requires that a "Notice of Preliminary Approval" sign be posted for 15 days at any site planning to cut trees.  Specifically, for tree cuttings approved by the City Arborist after August 15, 2000, a sign must be erected and the trees to be cut must be marked.  This applies both to private homeowners who want to cut trees in their yard and to developers who need to clear trees to be able to build.  During the 15 days, "any aggrieved person" may file an appeal with the City.

The intent is not to encourage frivolous appeals, filed just to irritate neighbors or to harass builders.  Rather, the intent is to let people know that the cutting of trees has been approved and give them a chance to research to see whether the Arborist has made an arbitrary decision or one based on errors of fact.  Further, this kind of notification is a courtesy

Links to other pages in this Newsletter:

Page 1 - North Buckhead Case Goes to the Supreme Court!

Page 2 - Adopt a New Tree for North Buckhead

Page 3 - Blue Heron Nature Preserve is Emerging

Page 4 - Zoning Issues At Midvale Drive

Page 5 - Zoning Report

Page 6 - Fulton County Soil and Water District Election September 26th

Page 7 - Zoning Report - continued

Page 8 - Neighbors in the News: Contributed by Natalie Spalding

Page 9 - Lets Talk Sidewalks/NBCA Officers, Board and Committee Chairs

Page 10 - Protecting Atlanta's Trees

Page 11 - New NBCA Traffic Committee/"Trees Atlanta" Tree Sale/ "North Buckhead" Marker/NBCA on the Web