Is a tree in your yard blocking your view or falling toward your building? According to the City of Atlanta Tree Ordinance, you can’t just cut it down. The City of Atlanta protects its trees to maintain the state’s natural beauty.
Whether it’s on public or private property, a tree can’t be modified or removed without formal authorization in the form of a permit. Fortunately, the permitting process is straightforward—all you have to do is contact Atlanta’s Arborist Division.
At Southern Tree Pros, our team can help you with all your tree removal needs, including information on how to get a tree removal permit in Atlanta, GA.
What is the Atlanta Arborist Division?
The Arborist Division includes several offices working together to protect trees on private properties in Atlanta. The Office of Parks in the Department of Parks and Recreation protects the trees growing in public spaces.
Besides granting tree removal permits, the division also handles:
- Investigation of illegal tree destruction or removal
- Submission of tree-related cases to the Tree Conservation Commission
- Review of building plans for properties that contain trees
- Verification of trees slated for removal
- Inspection of dead, dying, diseased, or hazardous trees before granting permits
- Property inspection before issuing a Final Certificate of Occupancy (CO)
How Do Tree Removal Permits in Atlanta Work?
The City of Atlanta Tree Ordinance states that you cannot remove, destroy, or injure any tree that’s on private or public property. If you want to get rid of a dying, dead, or hazardous tree, you need a permit from the Arborist Division before taking any action.
The law covers trees of all types and sizes growing on city-owned property. If the tree is growing on private property, you can’t remove it without a permit if it is more than six inches in diameter-at-breast-height (DBH). It doesn’t matter if the tree is dead or dying.
Failure to obey the City of Atlanta Tree Ordinance regarding removing or damaging trees can lead to fines. The fine for first-time offenders is $500, while subsequent violations attract a steeper fine of $1,000.
After receiving your application for a tree removal permit, the Arborist Division will send inspectors and plan reviewers to investigate the tree. During the visit, you can explain your situation and why you want the tree removed.
After the investigation, the Arborist Division will decide whether to grant you a permit to cut down the tree.
What if the Permit Application is Denied?
If the Arborist Division rejects your request, submit an appeal to the Tree Conservation Commission. You can also appeal applications denied by the Forestry Division of the Office of Parks. However, note that permits approved by the Arborist Division and Forestry Division are not appealable.
According to the City of Atlanta’s Tree Ordinance, a valid appeal must provide clear evidence of misinterpretation of the facts by a city administrative official. If your appeal fails, you can submit a landscaping application to remove the tree.
What if a Tree Poses an Immediate Hazard and I Can’t Wait for a City Arborist Inspection?
Do you have a hazardous-looking tree and can prove that it poses an immediate danger to health or safety? Get a verbal tree removal approval from the Arborist Division’s arboricultural manager or regional inspectors.
After the emergency tree removal, you must apply for a written tree removal permit within five days of the verbal approval. You must accompany the application with photographs of the tree. If the tree emergency occurs during non-working hours, you can remove the tree immediately and contact the city arborist on the next working day.
If you cannot justify your reason for the emergency tree removal, the arborist manager may ask you to pay recompense and fines.
How to File for a Tree Removal Permit in Atlanta, GA
The removal permit application process starts when you submit a completed application. You can submit the application via email, fax, or online through Accela Citizen Atlanta. The application must contain:
- Your name and address
- The tree type and size
- The tree’s location
- Reason for the removal
After receiving your application and pictures of the tree, Accela will create a record and schedule a State Arborist to inspect the tree. The arborist typically shows up for the inspection five business days after application submission. If there is a huge backlog of applications, it may take longer for the arborist to visit.
The arborist does not need to meet with you or the property owner to perform the inspection. After receiving a record of the inspection, the Arborist Division may deny or approve your application or ask for additional information regarding the tree.
You will receive a copy of the field inspection report via email or mail. Comments regarding the condition of the inspected tree will also be in the report.
If you receive approval, the field report must be at the site during the tree removal. Having the field report onsite proves the legality of your actions if anyone questions the tree removal.
Can I Cut Down a Healthy Tree?
The City of Atlanta Tree Ordinance permits cutting down healthy trees on construction sites, but you still need a tree removal permit in Atlanta, GA. For example, you can get permission to remove trees blocking the construction of new buildings and infrastructure.
If you get a permit to remove a healthy tree, you must minimize the environmental damage by planting a replacement tree. Alternatively, you may have to pay a recompense, which goes to the city’s Tree Trust Fund to finance the planting of new trees.
Need Help Getting a Tree Removal Permit in Atlanta, GA?
At Southern Tree Pros, we’ve assisted countless Atlanta residents with various residential and commercial tree services. Our team consists of ISA-certified arborists who deliver quality tree care solutions. Let our experts help you get a tree removal permit in Atlanta and take care of your tree removal or pruning needs.
Contact us today at (770) 841-1684 to discuss our hassle-free tree removal solutions.