PTC to beef up tree removal rules
At the request of the city council, Peachtree City is preparing a stronger tree removal ordinance that will provide the ability for the city to deny tree removal on personal property in some circumstances.
The new ordinance has not yet been written, but Community Development Director David Rast gave a preview of some of its features at Monday night’s meeting of the city’s planning commission.
Residents who have tree removal permits denied will be able to appeal the matter to the city council, Rast explained.
Under current city ordinance, the city doesn’t really have standing to deny any tree removal permits, Rast said. Staff’s goal is to have the new ordinance prepared for council consideration at its Sept. 1 meeting.
The new ordinance would prevent the removal of specimen trees except in certain circumstances. Specimen trees would be defined as:
• Hardwood trees 38 inches or larger in circumference such as Oak, Hickory, Poplar and Sweetgum varieties;
• Softwood trees 31 inches or larger in circumference such as Pine, Leyland Cypress and Cryptomeria; and
• Understory trees 13 inches or larger in circumference such as Dogwood, Redbud, Sourwood and Cherry.
Residents would still be allowed to remove trees if they are diseased, dead or dying as allowed under current ordinance. Tree removal would also be allowed if the tree is located close enough to existing or proposed structures “that the utility or structural integrity of such structures is materially impaired.”
The new ordinance also requires homeowners to provide a copy of their property’s plat, which will be used to determine the buffers and floodplain on the property, Rast said. Homeowners who don’t have a copy of their plat should be able to get a copy from the city’s files, he added.
Another new requirement under the ordinance will be that the homeowner provide written approval from the subdivision’s homeowners association if there is one, Rast noted.
Recently it was suggested that city code enforcement officers stop visiting properties to check on the tree removal process both before and after in an effort to significantly cut down on staff time. Rast said he didn’t see how the city could avoid doing site visits to confirm which trees were removed.
Instead, the new ordinance will put more of the documentation burden on the person applying for the tree removal permit, or the company that is handling the work for a given site.
Rast proposed the permit fee be set at $25, but several planning commissioners said they felt it should be higher to appropriately cover the cost of staff time spent on each permit.