Community members organize meeting to discuss tree ordinance

Posted by Dan Whisenhunt January 25, 2014
A photo of the tree-covered Decatur Square. Source:

A photo of the tree-covered Decatur Square. Source:

Decatur attorney Jeff Lell and several other residents will host a community meeting on Sunday, Jan. 26, at 5 pm to discuss the city’s recent effort to enact new restrictions on tree removal.

The meeting will be held at The Church at Decatur Heights, located at 735 Sycamore Drive. Everyone is invited to attend.

“There is no set format,” Lell said in an email about the meeting. “Since I have no idea how many people will actually show up and what viewpoints will be represented, we will basically adjust on the fly to suit the situation. I will try to steer the discussion as best I can. The only thing that I will ask, and demand if necessary, is that we avoid rehashing the past and instead focus on what we can do moving forward. In addition to an open-form discussion, I do expect there to be at least one presentation about an exciting local initiative involving tree planting and education that will be announced and launched very soon.”

On Jan. 21, City Commissioners backed off implementing a new policy that would’ve required some property owners to plant trees if they wanted to make additions to their home or removed trees from their land. The policy was intended to set a citywide canopy goal of 55 percent, but it was reduced to 50 percent at the Jan. 21 meeting. After getting the bark stripped off of them for several hours by angry Decatur residents who opposed the new policy, City Commissioners decided to postpone the vote until March.

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Dan Whisenhunt is editor and publisher of

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  • J_T

    Thanks for posting this Dan. Just a short clarification for folks who may be wondering what our agenda is and/or why this wasn’t more widely publicized:

    This “meeting” sprang spontaneously from an exchange on another local blog between several people who opposed the tabled ordinance for various reasons and decided to get together to discuss it. In a move I will surely end up regretting, I volunteered to compile an email list of interested people. I expected that I would end up having a few coffees or beers with 3 or 4 like-minded people. The response, however, was overwhelming and this has pretty much taken on a life of its own by now. To be clear, this is not MY meeting. My own personal objective is to get people together to talk and to help find ways to accomplish our shared goals while avoiding some of the inherent pitfalls with the very flawed proposed ordinance that narrowly avoided being passed into law on Tuesday. Everyone interested in this issue is welcome to attend. All I ask is that we remain civil and focused on how we can help the commission and the city move forward in a positive way rather than rehashing old wounds. There is no pre-set agenda on my part and there will be very little in the way of a formal program tomorrow. Rather, it will be an opportunity for many of us to meet face-to-face for the first time and seek out common ground on a divisive issue. If we can accomplish that, I think it will be a huge benefit for the City of Decatur.

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