Atlanta Council proposes significant change to tree ordinance

On June 17, The Atlanta City Council made a striking modification the City's tree ordinance.

Property owners will now be allowed to remove any tree that is growing within 5 feet of a house or duplex, without recompense. A permit will still be required from the City Arborist Division prior to removal, and no other tree may be removed under the same provision for 5 years. Furthermore, the exemption does not apply if the tree contributes 10 percent or more of the total tree canopy over the lot.


JLB said…
Hmmm... so, who provides an assessment for total canopy cover on a given lot? What was the motivation behind this change... are there a significant number of trees requiring removal in Atlanta?
J Milton said…
Great Questions! The City of Atlanta Arborist Division determines the canopy coverage.

As of this comment, the changes approved by Council have not yet been signed by Mayor Franklin, but we will see what happens. The ordinance changes still need clarification, such as: is it the trunk or canopy that has to be 5 feet from the house? What method is used to determine canopy...shaded area, or calculated? Many questions need to be answered on this.

Atlanta has seen much of its canopy disappear over the past 30 years, but it still boasts a relatively dense urban forest. I've visited many places along the eastern seaboard, and I have yet to find a more forested city as Atlanta. Unfortunately, the 10-12 degree difference you feel between the city and the wooded areas is caused by sprawling commercial development, pavement, and dark industrial rooftops. The in-town neighborhoods are still delightfully covered with large Oaks!

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