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18 | Community

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Tree removal crackdown effort gets first nod Continued from page 1

representatives from Perimeter Mall approached the city earlier this year about up to $1,000 per tree cut down without a wanting to cut down 69 specimen underpermit. story trees along the Ashford-Dunwoody The permit is required before cutting Road side of the mall. down a hardwood tree at breast height In an interview, Community Develthat measures 14 inches or more in diopment Director Richard McLeod, who ameter; “specimen” softwoods, such as came on board with the city in June, said pine trees, that meathe mall approached the sure 30 inches or more; city before he was hired, and “specimen” underbut that he understood story trees that meathat the mall wanted to sure 6 inches or more. remove trees that are 30 Specimen understory to 40 years old because trees include dogwoods, they were blocking the sourwoods and crepe view of the mall. myrtles. “We warned them The permit is for trees there would be heck located on “non-resito pay” if they did so, dential, mixed-use and McLeod said. multi-family zoned lots,” The mall eventually the ordinance states. It decided not to remove does not apply to resithe trees. dential property. “They did not and we The ordinance CITY OF DUNWOODY won’t let them,” he said. amendment now goes to Community Development A call to mall manDirector Richard McLeod. the City Council for final agement seeking comconsideration. ment was not returned. A memo to the PlanThe mall request shined a light on a ning Commission from Planning Manloophole in the ordinance. The mall manager John Olson said the idea for an agers could have cut down the 69 trees amendment was brought into focus after without a permit because the tree remov-

al was unrelated to any kind of construction permits. “They could have cut them down … but essentially they came to their senses because they knew they would have a black eye if they did so,” McLeod said. Olson also noted in his memo to commissioners that tree removal companies have taken advantage of the fact that Dunwoody does not have a process for tree removal other than during construction projects. “As a result, large trees have been targeted by tree companies after big storms,” Olson stated. “And unfortunately, otherwise savable trees with only minor storm damage have been removed.” The tree ordinance amendment is meant to “reign in the needless removal of trees” outside of construction, Olson added. “Numerous residents and businesses within the city of Dunwoody have reached out to staff, often weekly, to express their concern when seeing trees being removed and ask for direction with their own trees. However, many are shocked when they learn that our ordinance does not speak to the removal of trees outside of the construction process,” Olson said. The proposed permit and review pro-

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cess would allow the city to review trees that are “valuable to the community as a whole,” he wrote in the memo. The ordinance amendment also indicates the city’s commitment to preserving the tree canopy in Dunwoody, city spokesperson Bob Mullen said. “We want to take this step to ensure trees are not cut down without the city’s knowledge,” he said. The city’s tree canopy was last assessed in 2011, Mullen said, and shows that Dunwoody is located on approximately 8,500 acres of land composed of heavily wooded parkland areas surrounded by moderately wooded residential areas with lightly to moderately wooded commercial locations. Satellite images used for the tree canopy assessment six years ago show that of the 8,500 acres, there are approximately 2,631 acres, or 31 percent, of land with little or no canopy, Mullen said. This land includes places like Perimeter Mall, the DeKalb water treatment plan and residential areas heavily impacted by a 1998 tornado. The assessment further states that of the remaining 69 percent of land, about 50 percent is covered by tree canopy and 19 percent by impervious surfaces.

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8-18-17 Dunwoody Reporter