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Summary of Unenforced Sections

The Tree Next Door is presently working with the Arborist Division and Tree Conservation Commission to correct these ordinance violations. A status update of our progress is linked below each item in red.  The most recent update we have received is from the media, in which Reporter News interviewed Elizabeth Johnson, Project Manager for City Planning, about the Buckhead Council of Neighborhood’s concerns that parts of the Tree Protection Ordinance are going unenforced.  Their concerns are in direct response to our flyer which was distributed at their January 10, 2019 meeting.

1. “Saved” trees are being destroyed.

This section mandates an on-site conference between the developer and the arborist for a final tree fence inspection before demolition, grading, or construction begins. With no pre-construction conferences, developers have been allowed to grade lots, cut down trees, and refuse to put up tree fences, often before the preliminary approval of tree removal (yellow sign posting) is completed.

Click here for status update.

This section provides for more substantial wood or steel tree fencing on heavy construction sites or upon multiple violations. Metal fencing has proven to be very effective, but the arborist office rarely requires it for tree fence violations. And even when it is required, contractors often remove or shift the fences, resulting in destroyed trees.

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2. Destroyed trees aren’t being counted.

This section requires a quarterly report showing the total number and DBH of trees removed by various categories, including DDH (dead, dying or hazardous) trees. Until October 2019, destroyed trees were not being counted because there were no quarterly reports. Trees removed on public property still are not being counted. 

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3. We don’t know about planned tree removals.

This section ensures that notice of preliminary approvals for tree cutting be posted in 1) the office of the city arborist that issued the approval (Office of Planning or Office of Parks), 2) the City of Atlanta website (www.atlantaga.gov), and 3) on the property affected so that it may be seen and read by passers-by. Presently, for trees on private property, there is no posting in either the Office of Planning or on the city website. The only way to know if there are plans to remove a tree on private property is to drive by the yellow sign posted on the property.

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4. No one is planning for Atlanta’s future tree canopy.

This section states that the Tree Conservation Commission is to consult with the city forester in the preparation of the master plan for the trees in the city. Most cities have a master plan which include tree inventories, recommended species of trees, future planning, and attention to special sections of the city, like watersheds, that need tree attention. Although the Tree Conservation Commission has, within the last two years, contracted satellite imaging of the city trees, Atlanta is doing no overall tree planning. There is no master plan.

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5. Standards are not being consistently followed.

This section says that the Tree Conservation Commission is to review and approve the required city arboricultural specifications and standards of practice (SOPs). Until 2011, the Arborist Division had followed prescribed SOPs for such functions as assessing tree health, posting tree removal signs, and keeping field books. Presently, it appears that there is no set of SOPs being consistently followed, other than how to enter data into Accela, the City’s online services application.

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