Neighbors Upset After 400 Year Old Tree Was Removed Without Proper Permit


Aug 28, 2023
A number of people in Atlanta, Georgia were in a uproar when 400 year old trees were being removed without the proper permits back in July. The home owners were denied access to a permit to remove the trees numerous times, however this didn't stop them from hiring a tree removal service. People who illegally remove trees in Atlanta can face up to a $1,000 fine, both the home owner and tree removal service were fined $4,360. The trees were removed due to safety concerns by the homeowner, who states that during bad thunderstorms the trees caused safety hazards for the family. You can read more about this in the following article:
Atlanta, Georgia, United States
It's fine that they had concerns before removing the said tree, but doing so without getting a permit was a huge mistake. If the request for a permit was previously turned down, there is need for dialogues to take place even if the house owners have to go to that extra mile. Getting fined for poor approach to getting permits can be sad. Good intentions, bad move.
While safety concerns are important, it's vital to follow proper procedures and permits when removing centuries-old trees. Atlanta's response with fines reflects the significance of preserving green spaces in urban areas. Striking a balance between safety and environmental preservation is crucial in such cases.
All the homeowner had to do was apply for a DDH permit. If the tree was really hazardous then, the city would have approved the DDH. It's that simple. I'm a permit expediter in the City of Atlanta, and this is one of the biggest problems I see with clients.
Hi @aliciamarie, and welcome! Great to have some Atlanta-area expertise on the forum :).

Good to know about DDH...had to look it up actually ("dead, dying or hazardous"). I get the sense that the homeowner would have definitely benefited from having a professional permit expediter advise them on this.
In Atlanta, Georgia, you must have a permit to remove a tree because removing it without a permit is considered illegal. Anyone who is found removing a public tree for whatever reason will have to pay a fine. You cannot remove a tree without getting a permit from the 'Tree Protection Ordinance'.
I can understand the concerns they may have had regarding safety when it came to the trees but taking things into your own hands and having the trees removed without a permit was very wrong.

A fine for both was very much the right decision to make, it is just a shame it can't bring the trees back, especially since they were very old trees and something could have been done instead of cutting them down.