PTC to loosen tree requirements

Thursday night the Peachtree City Council is expected to consider a change that will loosen requirements for residents to get a tree removal permit.
Under the current ordinance, a resident seeking to cut down any tree of any size is required to get a tree removal permit from the city. The change would limit the permit requirement to only those trees that are defined as “protected or specimen trees” under city ordinance.

That means for canopy trees, deciduous trees that are greater than 15 inches in diameter, and evergreen trees that are 18 inches in diameter. For all understory trees, the measurement is 4 inches in diameter.

Another update to the ordinance would allow residents to remove specimen or protected trees which sustain irreparable damage and also represent an immediate hazard to human life or property “as determined by a certified arborist licensed to practice in the state of Georgia.”

In November, council discussed how the tree removal permits haven’t been effective in stunting the removal of trees on private property all over the city.
According to city data, more than 7,000 tree removal permits have been processed for over 43,000 trees in a six-year timeframe. Furthermore the city has no way to tell how many trees were planted in the same time frame, as some residents add more trees and re-landscape when they remove trees.

The city does not charge a fee for a tree removal permit and furthermore does not have the authority to prevent any tree from being removed, Community Development Director David Rast told council late last year.

Moreover, the tree permits are cumbersome to administrate, taking up about a half a day’s work for one of the city’s two code enforcement officers. Those officers have been focusing on quality of life issues particularly in some of the city’s older neighborhoods, officials said.

Changing the tree removal permit requirement will still allow the city to help protect some of its larger trees, Rast told council in a memo in advance of Thursday’s 7 p.m. meeting.

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