Appealing an Arborist's Decision

This catagory contains information on how to file a tree appeal. It includes forms to download, arborist contacts, an arborist map and a checklist of things to do to prepare an appeal.

Know the Law

When the city arborist makes a decision about a tree that you do not agree with, it is within your right to file an appeal.  However, you should know the law before going into the hearing.  It will be helpful to review the Tree Removal FAQ and the full Tree Protection Ordinance so that you fully understand what the law does and does not protect.

Many people try to argue their appeal based on emotion, personal fears, impact to their own property value, or beauty of the neighborhood -- the Tree Commission's decision cannot be based on any of these things.  It is fine to describe the property's unique features to provide context, particularly if the site contains any champion trees or if tree removal will cause stormwater runoff to affect the adjacent properties, but make sure that the Tree Commission has specific sections of the tree ordianance that can be used to uphold your appeal.  It is not the City Arborist's nor the Tree Commission's job to advocate on behalf of saving trees.  Their responsibility is to enforce the Tree Ordinance as written. So, to the greatest extent possible, highlight the specific sections of the tree ordinance that the preliminary permit you are appealling does not comply with.  

If you don't like the way the Tree Ordinance is written, then please join The Tree Next Door to advocate for changes to the tree ordinance.  You cannot use the appeals process to re-write or re-interpret the law.

 

Information and Forms

If you want to appeal the City Arborist's decision on a tree(s), you must submit the proper paperwork by the deadline date on the yellow sign. The City Arborist Office can also give you the appeal deadline date if you are unable to obtain it from the posting sign.

Download the Tree Appeal Procedure and Tree Appeal Form.  (If you attempt to fill out the PDF appeal form online without downloading it first, make sure to Print the form to a PDF file in order to save all your edits to the form; otherwise, they will not be saved.) Or, contact Kathryn Evans at 404-330-6235 at the City Arborist Office to have the tree appeal package faxed to you.  

(If you would prefer to handle your appeal using Microsoft Word, please email us at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it  and we will send you the entire appeal packet in Word.)

Also obtain from the City Arborist Office:

  1. The permit # from City Arborist for the site under appeal.
  2. Full copy of the site plans approved by the City Arborist.  The City may ask you to file an Open Records Request to obtain a site plan, although this is NOT legally required for you to do so when obtaining a site plan for the purposes of filing an appeal.  Also, you may have to go to the Arborist Division downtown at 55 Trinity Ave. to pick up a hard copy printout of the site plan if they do not have the site plan available electronically.  They will charge you $11 per page to photocopy the site plan.  You are allowed to take photographs of the site plans instead of paying for copies, but make sure you specify that you only want to "view" the site plans; otherwise, you will be charged for the copies.
  3. Copy of  the arborist’s preliminary approval.  
  4. Copy of any supporting documentation about the health of the trees.
  5. A DDH inspection report conducted by the City Arborist on all trees declared DDH on the site plan.  (Do not accept a DDH report conducted by the developer's/builder's or property owner's arborist; insist that the City Arborist conduct their own inspection.)

Use the official Tree Appeal Form when submitting your appeal and make sure to deliver the form and $75 fee by the deadline indicated on the yellow posting sign.  Given that the window of time to submit an appeal is very short, we highly recommend that you either deliver the appeal form in person or contact Kathryn Evans (404-330-6235) and tell her that you will be faxing or emailing the form directly to her (at 404-658-6977) and then immediately send in the $75 check.

The $75 can be paid online and Kathryn can send you an electronic invoice.

All appeal forms should be emailed to Kathryn Evans at  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it  or by mail to:

Kathryn Evans
Administrative Assistant, Sr.
Arborist Division, Office of Buildings
55 Trinity Avenue, Suite 3800
Atlanta, Georgia  30303-0309

The appeals process can seem overwheming if you have never filed an appeal before.  Do not feel that you have to go it alone!  The Tree Next Door has volunteers who have been through the appeals process more than once and will be happy to assist you.  (However, TTND cannot file appeals on your behalf.)  Please do not hesitate to contact us at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it if you need help.  We will respond within 24 hours to all requests for help with an appeal.  If your appeal deadline is within 48 hours, we will respond the same day!

A flow chart of the appeals process can be found here.

 

Call Your Neighborhood City Arborist

There are two types of city arborists in the Arborist Division: Plan Reviewers and Field Inspectors.

The Plan Reviewers evaluate applications to remove trees, most often in conjuction with a building permit application.

The Field Inspector makes onsite visits to post properties under plan review, assess tree health, and issue permits for DDH tree removal or citations for illegal tree removal.

If you are interested in knowing more about a tree removal application, you should speak with the Plan Reviewer assigned to that particular tree removal application. This Plan Reviewer can be looked up in Accela, or you can call the Field Arborist assigned to your zip code to find out the name of the Plan Reviewer.

Also, it may be helpful to talk directly with the person who is requesting the tree removal permit.  Sometimes the permit requestor is willing to accomodate changes to the site plan in order to avoid the appeals process which will cause a delay in their construction.  However, make sure to get any concessions they give you granted in writing on the actual site plan that receives final approval by the City Arborist; otherwise, you have no recourse if the agreed upon changes are not implemented.

The names and contact information for all Field Inspectors and Plan Reviewers can be found here.

If your appeal is about trees on public property or in a park, you should call the Office of Parks at 404-546-6813. If you are not sure whether or not the tree is on public or private property, call the Field Arborist in the Arborist Divison first.

When calling any City employee about a tree or property, be prepared to give the exact street address.

   

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