Non-Construction Related Tree Removal

When attendees at the June 6, 2019 Tree Ordinance Rewrite Draft Outline public meeting were asked to comment on the "Non-Construction Related" concept board on how they felt about the "Ability to remove one (1) non-high value tree per year no matter the condition", the responses were overwhemlingly negative:


  • Definitely no! Please don’t do!
  • Don’t like One Tree a Year – Recipe for disaster.
  • This will only make it easier to remove trees.
  • Terrible idea! If we are serious about protecting the canopy – don’t do this!
  • 1 Tree/year dangerous precedent!
  • No – this would give too much leeway – there would be NO trees left in some neighborhoods
  • People break the law now. Don’t make it easier.
  • 1 is an arbitrary number. A hazardous tree is a hazard.
  • Who determines that the tree is non-high value?
  • BAD IDEA - Maybe there should be a provision that if a homeowner has a mimosa tree and wants to replace it with an oak or other “high value” tree, then on an individual basis ok.
  • Only damaged or sick or risky w/out large $ fee or ecological remediation.
  • Where’s the calculation showing that removing 1 tree per year will increase tree canopy?
  • Ripe for abuse. No.
  • No to 1 non-high value tree per year regardless of conditions. Since 95% of ATL’s trees are on private property & many lots are tiny, this could decimate our coverage in no time.
  • No.
  • NO CAP? Over time this policy could lead to massive deforestation on residential lots. Suggest there be financial deterrents.

They also disliked the fact that this proposal allowed healthy tree removal at the discretion of the property owner, not the City Arborist:

  • Number of trees to be removed should be determined by a city arborist rather than have a set number.
  • Every tree by a certain size needs a permit to cut after arborist agrees and appeals have been exhausted.
  • Don’t set a number – let arborist assess.
  • (Covered by another sticky note) … this board is total nonsense. If dead, dying, hazardous as deemed by arborist, the tree should be removed. If healthy, it should remain. Period.

There were a couple of comments that supported this proposal, and one suggested it be limited to one tree every FIVE years. 


  • Great idea. Apply to non-commercial property only.
  • 1/5yr (A second comment said “Yes, I agree”).

A Better Alternative

There were a couple of comments that reflected public receptivity to providing support for people who couldn't afford to maintain their trees or remove them in case of an emergency.  

  • What provisions are there for elderly, low income & fixed income residents who need help w/tree maintenance or emergency removal?
  • Help is needed for elderly homeowners
    • To cut dead trees
    • To remove kudzu and ivy from existing trees
    • Prune trees to prevent hazardous conditions.

Perhaps we should explore earmarking a portion of the Tree Trust Fund to:

  • Assist qualified residents with tree maintenance and/or removal issues;
  • Provide more education on the benefits of trees and how removing them creates other costs homeowners may not be taking into account (higher electrict bills, more flooding, etc.);
  • Teach people how to recognize a DDH tree as opposed to a healthy tree that normally sheds leaves or branches.


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