Requesting a Tree Removal Permit

A permit is required to remove, destroy or injure any tree on city-owned property, regardless of size, or any tree of 6 inch or greater diameter at breast height (DBH) on private property. There are no exceptions, either by species or present condition. Even dead trees require a permit for removal. [Sec. 158-29; Sec. 158-101(a)].

The City of Atlanta now has an online application procedure for requesting tree removal permits. To request a permit, you must first register with the city via Accela, the City's online permitting database.  Once you have registered, you can apply for various permit types which include the following:

All requirements of the Tree Protection Ordinance must be met and -- with the exception of DDH trees -- a tree replacement plan must be approved.  In the case of building permits, the tree must be located within the buildable area of the lot or in the setback or required yard areas that must be used for driveways or utilities that cannot be accomplished through any other means. [Sec. 158-102(a)(1-3)]


Dead, Dying, or Hazardous (DDH) Tree Removal

Dead, dying, or hazardous (DDH) tree removal applications are approved or denied based on an individual tree inspection by a city forestor or arborist. Denied DDH applications may be appealed.  DDH permits may not be appealed, even if a privately hired arborist says the tree is healthy.  The denial of a citizen's right to appeal a DDH decision is a known loophole in the Tree Protection Ordinance.

DDH permits do not require prior public notice, though the permit must be available on site for public inspection. [Sec. 158-101(c)(1)]

If you are removing a DDH tree, you should consider notifying your neighbors that you have a permit to take down a DDH tree and to prominently display your permit at the site; otherwise, well-intentioned neighbors may call the police when the tree is being cut.

If you see what appears to be a healthy tree being removed and you are told that it is being removed because it is DDH, ask to see the removal permit and follow the steps for what you should do when you see a tree coming down. Take multiple pictures of the tree, showing it's lean, bark, and roots.  Once the tree is down, take cross-sectional pictures of the tree and see if you see any signs of decay there.  You may not save the tree, but if a healthy tree was indeed taken down because it was misclassified as DDH, you will have collected the evidence you need to file a complaint with the Arborist Division.  Also, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , the address where the photos were taken and any information you have about the tree and we may post this information on our website.


Building Construction, Renovation or Demolition Permits

Whenever there is a planned construction, rennovation or demolition -- even for a fence or driveway -  one needs to submit a permit request to the Office of Buildings.  A buiding site plan must be submitted along with the permit request. Trenching or soil disturbance for installation of underground equipment such as irrigation systems, tanks, wells, etc. also require a site plan.  Copies are routed to the Arborist Division (for permit requets affecting private property) or the Forestry Division of the Office of Parks (for permit requests affecting public property) for review.  [Sec. 158-101(d)]

If the initial evaluation of the building site plan indicates the intent to remove, destroy or injure trees on the subject or adjacent properties a “Notice of Plan Submittal” posting is made by placing an orange sign on the property announcing the potential for tree removal.  This sign must remain in place for a minimum of 10 calendar days.  The impacted trees do not need to be marked at this stage, but the plans must be available for public inspection in the Arborist or Forestry divisions. [Sec. 158-101(e)(?) (as amended)]

If a plan review determines that trees must be removed or destroyed in the intended construction a “Preliminary Approval” posting is made by placing a yellow sign on the property for a minimum of 5 working days.  The impacted trees must be prominently marked with orange paint and the plans must match the site conditions for this posting to occur.  Arborist decisions that include errors of law or of fact may be appealed. The appeal must be made within the 5 working day period.  [Sec. 158-101(e)(f)(?) (as amended)]


Landscape Permits

Permits to remove trees for landscaping are subject to the same requirements as building permits, but the plans are submitted only to the Arborist Division and do not need to be as detailed.  Posting, tree protection, replacement and recompense provisions are the same as for building permits. [Sec. 158-101(c)(2)]


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