Appealing an Arborist's Decision

Appeal Hearing on 200+ Trees at Horizon School

Over 200 trees at 1900 DeKalb Ave., the former site of the Horizon School, are to be clear-cut for --- you guessed it --- more condos!

Please attend the appeal hearing this Wednesday night to decide the fate of these trees. It is important to have a large turnout to show the Tree Commission that the community no longer is going to stand for this wholesale clear-cutting of property by developers. Georgia already ranks #1 in the nation for tree loss, and yet the City of Atlanta keeps handing out tree cutting permits like candy. And the City wil keep handing them out until community pressure to save trees -- especially those that are protected by the Tree Ordinance -- exceeds developer pressure for the City to look the other way.

poster for march 16 2018 hearing


On the most basic level, the developer/owner is suppose to minimize impact to trees to the maximum extent possible.  The developers have done nothing to preserve trees at this site.  They are literally clear-cutting 2.5 acres.

Here are some of the violations of the Tree Ordinance that are being appealed:

  • Trees in the setbacks are not being protected, which is a requirement of the Tree Ordinance.
  • Stands of trees are not being protected, which is a requirement for land over 1 acre.
  • The recompense is not being calculated properly.  Recompense is what the owner pays the city for taking down trees, and the money goes into the city tree bank for replanting new trees.
  • The developer is not replanting the proper type of trees, and is not replanting in the correct location.
  • The developer should make an effort to reuse the existing street and building footprints, but this is not happening.

Please don't let happen to this property what happened in Pine Hills, or the Bobby Jones Golf Course, or Piedmont Hospital.  It's time for the people of Atlanta to start making their voices heard about the importance of preserving Atlanta's urban tree canopy.  Please come to the hearing Wednesday to show your support for the people who have taken the intiative to file this appeal.  More information can be found on The City in the Forest website.


Know the Law

When the city arborist makes a decision about a tree that you do not agree with, it is within your right to file an appeal.  However, you should know the law before going into the hearing.  It will be helpful to review the Tree Removal FAQ and the full Tree Protection Ordinance so that you fully understand what the law does and does not protect. Do not try to argue your case based on emotion, personal fears, impact to your property value, or beauty of the neighborhood--the Tree Commission's decision cannot be based on any of these things.  Also, understand that it is not the City Arborist nor the Tree Commission's job to advocate on behalf of saving trees.  Their responsibility is to enforce the Tree Ordinance as written.  If you don't like the way the Tree Ordinance is written, then please join The Tree Next Door to advocate for changes to the Ordinance.  You cannot use the appeals process to re-write or re-interpret the law.

Information and Forms

If you want to appeal the City Arborist's decision on a tree(s), you must submit the proper paperwork by the deadline date.  Download the Tree Appeal Procedure and Tree Appeal Form or contact Kathryn Evans at 404-330-6235 at the City Arborist Office to have the tree appeal package faxed to you.  (The City Arborist Office can also give you the appeal deadline date if you are unable to obtain it from a posting sign.)

Also obtain from the City Arborist Office:

  1. The permit # from City Arborist for the site under appeal.
  2. Copy of site plans approved by city arborist.
  3. Copy of  the arborist’s preliminary approval.
  4. Copy of any supporting documentation about the health of the trees.

Use the official Tree Appeal Form when submitting your appeal and make sure to deliver the form and $75 fee by the deadline indicated on the posting sign.  Given that the window of time to submit an appeal is very short, we highly recommend that you either deliver the appeal form in person or contact Kathryn Evans (404-330-6235) and tell her that you will be faxing the form directly to her (at 404-658-6977) and then immediately send in the $75 check.

All appeal forms should be delivered to:

Kathryn Evans
Administrative Assistant, Sr.
Arborist Division, Office of Buildings
55 Trinity Avenue, Suite 3800
Atlanta, Georgia 30303-0309

The appeals process can seem overwheming if you have never filed an appeal before.  Do not feel that you have to go it alone!  The Tree Next Door has volunteers who have been through the appeals process more than once and will be happy to assist you.  (However, TTND cannot file appeals on your behalf.)  Please don't hesitate to contact us at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it if you need help.  We will respond within 24 hours to all requests for help with an appeal.  If your appeal deadline is within 48 hours, we will respond the same day!

A flow chart of the appeals process can be found here.


Call Your Neighborhood City Arborist

If time permits, call the arborist for your area to discuss the case prior to filing an appeal.  Also, in cases in which you are appealing a tree removal decision, it may be helpful to talk directly with the person who is requesting the tree removal.  Sometimes the permit requestor is willing to accomodaate changes to the tree plan and removal permit in order to avoid the appeals process.  However, make sure to get any concessions granted in writing as part of the tree plan and removal permit, or otherwise you have no recourse if the agreed upon changes are not implemented.

Who is the Arborist in my neighborhood?

Effective September 2, 2010

NW: Michael Franklin, 404.330.6079

NE: David Tachon, 404.330.6077

SW & SE: Stan Domengeaux, 404.330.6078














Arborist Zones (overlaid on NPU boundaries)  Note: as of 2-2-2012, this link appears to not be working on Atlanta's GIS Map site.


Check the Building Site Plan

A building site plan is a map (or survey) of the property with all the trees and existing/proposed building structures marked.  Any trees that are to be removed will be noted on the plan along with their diameter at breast height (DBH).  You will want to make sure that all the trees to be removed are correctly marked and measured on the plan.  Quite often the site plan does not reflect all the trees that will be impacted or destroyed, and recompense for removed trees is calculated only for those trees marked for removal on the plan. 

A building site plan should include the following elements:

  • A tree survey identifying the size, species and location of all trees having a diameter at breast height (DBH) of six inches or more
  • Trees to be saved and trees to be destroyed
  • Identification of “boundary trees” on adjacent properties
  • Topography at two-foot contour intervals
  • Existing and proposed structures, including driveways and parking areas, water detention ponds, utilities, material staging areas, and all areas requiring cut or fill
  • The root save area (critical root zone) of each tree identified, along with a calculation of the percentage of the area to be impacted by construction
  • Location of tree protection fences
  • A proposed tree replacement plan must be included, as well as the manner that the newly planted trees will be watered  A paid maintenance contract may be required.
  • If a construction limit line is established on the plan it must also be established by a tree protection fence on site, beyond which no activity is allowable [Sec. 158-105(a)(b)]

How to check the site plan:

  • Verify that trees marked as 'impacted' on the plan are correctly defined in terms of their placement on the property as well as their size and species.  "Impacted" means that the tree will suffer injury or destruction of more than 20% but not more than 33% of its root save area.  The root save area is found by drawing a circle around the tree that has a radius of 1 foot for each 1 inch DBH, or diameter at breast height, of tree.  For example, a tree with a DBH of 20 has a root save area of 20 feet around the tree.  Another way to quickly determine whether the root save area is being encroached upon is to imagine that the roots of the tree extend as far out underground as the branches extend overhead.
  • Verify that trees marked as "lost" on the plan are correct as well.  A "lost" tree is any tree that will suffer injury or destruction in excess of 33% to root save area or is otherwise not protected according to provision of ordinance.
  • If you need to measure any trees on site take a tape measure and wrap around the trunk of the tree at 4 1/2 feet from the ground.  Then, divide this number by 3.14 to calculate the DBH or diameter at breast height.  (diameter = circumference divided by 3.14).
  • Determine if any boundary trees are impacted (tree on adjacent property whose root save area intrudes across the property line of the site under consideration).  Note these on your list and plan.  Include size and species.  Boundary trees are not to be "impacted" without the knowledge and consent of the owner of the boundary tree. 

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