Passed – Commission approves tree ordinance

Posted by Dan Whisenhunt May 19, 2014
A fallen tree near Adair Dog Park in Decatur, Ga. The tree fell on the night of March 12. Photo by Dan Whisenhunt

A fallen tree near Adair Dog Park in Decatur, Ga. The tree fell on the night of March 12. Photo by Dan Whisenhunt

Decatur City Commissioners approved a new ordinance that would place additional regulations on tree removal while promoting growth of the city’s canopy.

The vote was unanimous.

City Planning Director Amanda Thompson said the ordinance makes it cheaper for property owners to plant trees than to take them down.

“The city is not obsessed with regulations,” Thompson said.

Commissioners had previously considered passing a law that would set a citywide canopy goal of 50 percent. The ordinance commissioners adopted will promote a “no net loss” policy based on the city’s last measured tree canopy level, 45 percent.

Under the ordinance, property owners will be able to remove up to three healthy trees within 18 months without penalty. The owners will be required to fill out a free informational permit that will help the city track changes to its canopy. It defines a protected tree as one being 6 inches or greater in diameter at breast height.

In addition the city says, “If (the) protected tree removal is part of a project that requires a land development permit or is the fourth or greater protected tree removal within 18 months, then the owner must document the existing tree canopy cover and maintain the same amount of tree canopy once the project is complete.”

For more information about new ordinance, click here. The commission made a few changes to the ordinance prior to its approval and will publish the revised ordinance soon.


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  • Kevin Wyatt

    What a disaster for Decatur.

  • Catherine Fox

    Hooray for Decatur!! It was a long time coming and appreciate the hard work of all the Commissioners and City staff. It is not perfect but it is better than we have had for a long time. Now we are a real Tree City!

    • J_T

      Gloat all you want now. We will have this repealed in 2 years. It’s a freaking joke of an unworkable law that will backfire on the people who supported it with noble intentions. The only people it will benefit are people like yourself who make a living by “helping clients design and implement cost-effective programs that result in long-term compliance and environmental protection.” (quoted from your own website)

  • J_T

    Just curious, but did they even attempt to address the fact that all of the public feedback was solidly, on the order of 3-1, against this ordinance?

    • kristend

      Nope. There was some comment about how they all received input from other sources than just the survey responses, but no specifics and definitely no recognition that the overwhelming majority of the responses they actually solicited solicited were against this. Might be fun to request all of their emails on this topic under the Georgia Open Records Act just for giggles.

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