Re: Tree – Petition demands rewrite of tree ordinance

Posted by Dan Whisenhunt February 7, 2014

TreeResidents of the city of Decatur have published a new petition on asking that the city of Decatur to rewrite a tree removal and protection ordinance that it tabled on Jan. 21.

The petition, created by “Concerned Residents of Decatur GA” says, “We understand the value of trees to our community. We do not support the tree ordinance considered at the January 21, 2014 meeting of the Decatur City Commission. We believe the City needs to start over with the drafting and review of a new proposed tree ordinance. We prefer to preserve the ability of homeowners to remove trees on their property that they deem to make their property unsafe, without undue restriction.”

To read the full petition, click here.

The petition follows an earlier meeting held on Jan. 26 to discuss ways to improve the ordinance, which would’ve required property owners to seek a permit to remove trees and maintain a tree canopy of 50 percent. Property owners faced hundreds of dollars to thousands of dollars in fees for costs associated with removing and planting trees. City Commissioners opted to hold off on approving the ordinance on Jan. 21. Commissioners had planned to vote again in March, but on Feb. 3 the commissioners unanimously agreed to hold a work session on the ordinance instead. Commissioners did not say when they might vote on it again.

City Manager Peggy Merriss told Decaturish that the city paid consultant Technical Forestry Services $7,700 to rewrite the tree ordinance that the city did not pass. City spokeswoman Casie Yoder said the city hasn’t hired any additional consultants to rewrite the ordinance and has not rehired Technical Forestry Services to tweak the tree ordinance.

About Dan Whisenhunt

Dan Whisenhunt is editor and publisher of

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  • Lisa

    I also support a tree ordinance re-write but I was hoping to see some acknowledgment for the perceived problem (clear cutting of lots to build homes significantly larger than the original structure; an apparent disregard for large and boundary trees that impact more than just the lot under construction, etc.) and perhaps suggestions on what might be a balance or compromise. Also, I agree the ordinance should be primarily incentive based. However, the statement “all homeowners should have equal opportunity to build their lots to the allowable amount without undue restrictions” makes me a bit nervous. It seems like this the status quo, and much of Decatur seems to agree that the status quo is not working.

  • Richat Structure

    Members of Trees Decatur worked very hard to have the city pass a tree ordinance that would have resulted in $100,000s of taxes/fees on homeowners per year. The community looks forward to learning the contribution of tree purchases by Trees Decatur that will occur on Arbor Day.

  • Catherine Fox

    Richat and others that may not be aware – Trees Decatur supports a healthy tree canopy and was not fully in favor of the proposed ordinance. In fact, we supported postponing the vote until a more effective ordinance could be crafted. Please visit our website ( to learn more about our ideas on how to best maintain a healthy urban forest now and in the future. We welcome your ideas as well on how to improve our quality of life in Decatur.

    For those who prefer not to click, here is a summary of our main points.

    Trees located in a residential lot are exempt from this ordinance unless an application for a demolition permit, land disturbance permit or building permit is being made or will be made in the next 18 months. This exemption does not include boundary trees, which are already regulated under the proposed ordinance.
    As part of the UDO Process (6 to 12 months), the City will develop incentives program to protect specimen trees and a high percentage of canopy on private properties including, (a) stormwater utility fee credit; (b) a certificate of recognition from the City; (c) fast track permitting for developers who preserve specimen trees.
    Projects involving application of a demolition permit, land disturbance permit or building permit are regulated under the ordinance including mandatory protection of all boundary trees, preservation of a minimum of 50% of the existing tree canopy (including specimen trees) and replanting (as needed) to meet the established canopy goal. Affected land owners can seek a variance to these requirements through established procedures including public notification and hearing.

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