ATLANTA AREA TREE LAWS AND PERMITS
City of Atlanta | Getting your City of Atlanta Permit | Fulton County | College Park & East Point
Dekalb County | Cobb County | Gwinnett County | Roswell | Norcross | Alpharetta
Note: The following are brief summaries of the laws in place to protect trees in and near Atlanta. They may be out of date or lack details to describe your situation, and Timber Solutions will not be held responsible or liable if information has changed. If you have any questions or know of any corrections, please call Timber Solutions & Landscape. For a list of your local contacts to find out the details in your area, go to the Arbor Atlanta website. (http://www.arboratlanta.com/protect.html)
City of Atlanta
The city of Atlanta has a strict tree ordinance that strives for the preservation of Atlanta’s green area. This means that for every tree that is cut down, an equal amount of green area must be replanted. Trees under 6 inches in diameter or trees that have died of natural causes or that are deemed dying or hazardous can be removed with a simple, free permit. But healthy, safe trees over 6 inches in diameter require special permits. The owner must pay recompense to the City of Atlanta to be used for the planting of additional trees, usually there is also a two week waiting period to allow residents to dispute the cutting of the trees. Only then can the permit be issued.
- Standard recompense is calculated using the following formula:
Recompense = $100*(# trees removed - # trees replaced) + $30*(# inches removed - # inches replaced)
So if you removed ten trees with 12 inch diameters and replace them with five trees with 2.5 inch diameters (the minimum size allowed for replacement trees, with a cost of about $500 each professionally installed) then your recompense would be:
Recompense = $100*(10 - 5 = 5) + $30*(120 – 12.5 = 107.5) = $500 + $3225 = $3725
- This doesn’t include the cost of the installed trees, which in this example would be around $2000. If no trees were planted as replacements in the case above, then the recompense would be $4600. It’s obvious, then, that you should plant as many trees as you can in your new landscape design as long as you really want those trees, because it’s not a very cost effective way of keeping your recompense costs low.
- It’s interesting to note that if the City of Atlanta were to lower the cost of recompense to below the replacement cost for new trees, people would have a financial incentive to invest heavily in new trees, the stated goal of the tree ordinance. In theory the collected revenues from recompense go towards the planting of new trees in the city, but because so much of the city land is privately held, it would seem wise to encourage heavy planting on that land in conjuction with city land. If you have comments on this issue, or if you decide that you would like to invest in tree planting on your own land, please contact us.
Getting your City of Atlanta Permit
Contact us at Timber Solutions & Landscape if you need to secure permits for tree removal. We submit dead or hazardous permit applications for free on behalf of potential clients. If such a permit is turned down, this means that in the view of the city arborist the tree is not hazardous enough to warrant removal. This decision can be appealed, but usually if you still want to cut the tree it’s best to go through the recompense process described above. Please call with additional questions. More information about the tree ordinance in Atlanta can be viewed on the Trees Atlanta website.
- Frank Mobley, Senior Arborist 404.330.6874
- NW: Michael Franklin, 404.330.6079
- NE: David Tachon, 404.330.6077
- SW & SE: Stan Domengeaux, 404.330.6078
In the city of Alpharetta, a permit must be obtained for the removal of any tree. Call David Shostak for more information at 678.297.6200.
In the city of Buford, a home owner may take down any tree, alive or dead, without a permit.
In the city of Clarkston, a permit is required for any and all tree removals unless tree is hazardous to the welfare of people or property determined by a certified arborist. Permit applications are available only in the City Hall office located at 3921 Church Street, Clarkston, Georgia 30021
College Park & East Point
Cobb County has a tree ordinance in effect. You may cut trees on private property as you like, but you must replant. There is no enforcement for residential property.
College Park has a tree ordinance that prohibits the cutting of more that 25% of the trees on private property within a five year period. It cost $20 for a tree permit, in which you state that you intend to cut trees and that you will cut less than 25%. There is no arborist division.
Cumming residents may remove any tree on your residential property without a permit. Trees located in stream buffers or exterior buffers may only be removed if they are dead or hazardous.
Dekalb County has a well-designed but complicated tree protection plan which seeks to allow homeowners some flexibility in cutting trees, but imposes strict requirements for new developments. For example, you may cut up to five trees a year on a private plot, as long as they are smaller than 30 inches in diameter, and you may cut as many trees as you like fewer than 8 inches in diameter, unless it is a precursor to earthmoving. In the case of earthmoving, which constitutes new development, a more complicated evaluation takes place, which emphasizes a certain level of tree cover for all new developments. You may not cut specimen trees in Dekalb County without a special permit. Please call us for details, or see the following website
. Call Tom Claiborne Director of Development 404.371.4913.
In the city of Decatur, if your home is more than 2 years old, there is no permit required for the removal of any tree. If your house is less than 2 years old, been redeveloped (taken down to the ground and rebuilt), or is in a Historic District, any and all trees require a permit. Some trees, if approved to be removed, may require you to plant new trees back on the same property.
In Doraville, home owners are allowed to remove any tree without a permit if they remove the tree themselves. If a Tree Service removes the tree a permit is required before any tree can be removed. A $25.00 application fee is required along with a $500.00 deposit per property/permit. The deposit is refunded to the applicant after inspection of cleanup is approved and application is signed by the City Inspector or City Police Officer.
In Forsyth County, residents may remove any tree on your residential property without a permit. Trees located in stream buffers or exterior buffers may only be removed if they are dead or hazardous.
In Fulton County, a permit is required for specimen trees only, defined as any tree with a diameter of 27” or greater. You will also need a permit if the tree is located in a creek/stream buffer. Contact Gene Calloway at 404 730 7800.
In Gwinnett County it is against the law to cut trees that shelter endangered species. Other than that, there are no requirements for tree removal.
The City of John's Creek does not issue tree removal permits. Tree removal is allowed unless the trees are located in a zoning buffer, stream buffer, Chattahoochee River Corridor, or other protected area. However, if you are applying for a building permit or land disturbance permit then the requirements in the Tree Preservation Ordinance must be satisfied. For guidance, please call the Department of Community Development at 678-512-3200If you live in an HOA, you should also check your HOA guidelines for any tree removal restrictions they might impose. prior to removing any trees.
In Marietta, no permit is required for any tree dead or alive as long as it is on a residential site. Permits may be required for Commercial property, depending on where the tree is located. Please call Rusty Roth at 770.794.5440
In Roswell, if you are on less than 1 acre of land, you only need a permit for specimen trees. A specimen tree is a 24” or larger hardwood (oak) or a 30” or larger softwood (pine) You must obtain a permit for any tree 3” or greater that will reach a mature height of at least 15’ if on 1 acre or more of land. Contact Andy Pitner at 770.641.3780. Click permit form click here. (http://www.roswellgov.com/DocumentView.aspx?DID=314
In Sandy Springs, a permit must be obtained for the removal of any tree 18” or larger. A specimen tree, 27” hardwood or 30” softwood, requires a site visit from a City Arborist. Contact Michael Barnett to notify him of your intentions. In many cases, like that of fallen trees or hazardous trees, and email with an attached photo may be acceptable to begin work. Email Michael at: firstname.lastname@example.org