Sign Postings

A list of signs posted on private property may be found here.

A list of signs posted on public property may be found here.

Posting rules are different for private and public property. Orange signs, which serve as notification that an application to remove trees has been made, only appear on private property. Trees being removed on public property do not go through an orange sign posting process; they have a yellow sign posting process only.

An orange, yellow or white City Arborist sign posted on a piece of property serves as notification that either:

  • a permit application (orange sign) to remove, destroy or injure trees protected under the City of Atlanta’s Tree Protection Ordinance has been filed,
  • a preliminary approval (yellow sign) has been granted by the City Arborist to remove, destroy or injure trees on the property,
  • or an appeal of a City Arborist’s decision (white sign) to permit the removal, destruction or injury of trees on the property has been filed.

No posting is required to remove a dead, dying, or hazardous (DDH) tree; however, a permit must still be obtained from the Arborist Division prior to cutting the tree.

What to Do if You See an Orange Sign

orange sign

An orange sign on the property announces the potential for tree removal or tree damage on that site. If the initial evaluation of a building site plan indicates the intent to remove, destroy or injure trees on the subject or adjacent properties a “Notice of Plan Submittal” posting is made by placing an orange sign on the property announcing the potential for tree removal. This sign must remain in place for a minimum of 10 calendar days. The affected trees do not need to be marked at this stage.

Note, orange signs only appear when trees on private property may be taken down.  Trees being removed on public property do not go through an orange sign posting process; they have a yellow sign posting process only.

When you see an orange sign, you should contact the City Arborist Office at 404-330-6235 and request to see the building site plan for the property. The site plan should include information about which trees will be impacted. You will have to go downtown to the City Arborist Office (at 55 Trinity Avenue, Atlanta, GA, 30303) to see the plan; at this time site plans are not provided online or by fax or mail. However, you can request that the City Arborist make a copy of the plan at your expense.

If you have any concerns about the trees being impacted on the site plan, or you do not think the site plan accurately reflects the impacted trees on that or adjacent properties, tell the City Arborist site plan reviewer immediately. (No appeal of the request to impact trees can be made at this time because no approval has yet been given.)

You may also choose to contact the owner of the property directly to discuss your concerns. Some owners will be open to discussing alternatives to help protect the trees on the property, but some will not. The owner is under no obligation to protect the trees beyond what is required by the Tree Protection Ordinance, so you should realize that your requests that go above and beyond the requirements of the ordinance may not be met.


What To Do if You See a Yellow Sign

yellow signIf upon review of the site plan a city official determines that trees must be removed, injured, or destroyed during construction, a “Preliminary Approval” posting is made by posting a yellow sign for a minimum of 7 business days on private property and 15 calendar days on public property, as well as on the Arborist Division online list of sign postings. The yellow sign posting process must be followed and the site plans must match the actual site conditions with the affected trees marked prominently in orange paint.

If you see a yellow sign, IMMEDIATELY contact the City Arborist Office (contact: Kathryn Evans, Administrative Analyst, 404-330-6235) to obtain a copy of the site plan as well as a copy of the preliminary approval that was issued to remove or injure trees.  Any appeal you may wish to make to this preliminary approval must be made by the deadline noted on the sign.

An appeal to the preliminary posting must be based on evidence that a decision by a city official misinterpreted or misapplied specific sections of the Tree Protection Ordinance.  An appeal is not directed toward the property owner but to the Tree Commission, which determines whether any sections of the ordinance were misinterpreted or misapplied in granting the permit.  A $75 administrative fee or a detailed and signed “hardship” letter must accompany the appeal.  You can download a copy of the City’s instructions and the online form to complete to file your appeal.

Appeals regarding trees on private property may be made by anyone who 1) owns property or resides within the neighborhood planning unit (NPU) in which the property is located or 2) within 500 feet of the property.  Appeals regarding trees on public property may be made by 1) any citizen of Atlanta, 2) any owner of a property or a business in Atlanta, or 3) any civic organization in the NPU in which the trees are located.

After an appeal is filed, any activity authorized by the decision under appeal is stopped: "no permits shall be issued, no trees cut, nor earth disturbed.”  The clerk sets a hearing date and will notify the person who filed the appeal and the property owner.

At least two weeks prior to the hearing the filer of the appeal and other interested parties must submit in writing their detailed appeal(s).  At minimum, the appeal should include the sections of the tree ordinance that have been misinterpreted or misapplied in granting the preliminary approval.  Within one week of the hearing, all rebuttal arguments and evidence must be submitted in writing.  New evidence that emerges during the week prior to the hearing may be submitted at the hearing if it could not have been obtained earlier.

Often, the property owner or developer will contact the appellant directly to discuss the appellant's concerns.  We encourage you to listen to what the property owner/developer has to say but to keep moving forward with the appeal if any aspect of the ordinance is being violated by the preliminary posting.  You should not drop an appeal because a property owner/developer attempts to persuade you to overlook the violation in order to be a “good neighbor”.  We have seen many tactics used to persuade an appellant to drop an appeal, the most common one being to tell the appellant that this is not an investment home, but one the builder plans to move into.  Although rare, there have also been reports of threats towards the appellant. Any threats involving trespassing, bodily harm, or destruction of property should be immediately reported to the City Arborist and the City Police. Again, you should focus on upholding the Tree Protection Ordinance and not trying to appease the property owner whose primary concern is that your appeal is delaying their project.

If you file an appeal but are unable to provide any facts that could be brought forth at a hearing that could sustain such an appeal, then the appeal can be declared frivolous by a vote of the Tree Conservation Commission in advance of the hearing.  Often the property owner/developer will claim that an appeal is frivolous in hopes that the Commission dismisses it in advance of the hearing. However, the Commission will always hear your case if you are able to cite how the Tree Protection Ordinance has been misinterpreted or misapplied.


What To Do if You See a White Sign

white_signPublic notice of any appeal hearing must be made by the posting of a white appeal sign on the property at least 15 days prior to the hearing.  If you are not the appellant and want to know more about an appeal hearing, please contact the City's Arborist Division.  You can also query the property address on the City's online permitting database to see what has been appealed.  (You can search the database by a number of factors, such as the permit number, but the easiest will probably be the street address of the property.  Scroll down the search criteria until you see where you can enter the street address, enter the address, and then press the Search button.)

Anyone is welcome to attend the hearing and request to speak in favor or against the appeal.  If you wish to speak at a hearing, make sure to fill out a green card which is available at the front of the hearing room declaring your intention to speak.  You will not be called on directly to speak (which means you can change your mind about speaking at any time), but you can stand up and say that you want to speak when the Tree Commission asks if there are any comments or rebuttals after the appellant has presented his or her case.

You will have up to five minutes to speak in the rebuttal period, but you should think about keeping your comments as brief and succinct as possible for maximum impact.  Once testimony is over and the Tree Commission has gone into their discussion period, no more questions or testimony can be given, so make sure to get your comments in before they begin their discussion of the case.

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