Arborist vs. Arborist – A Decatur City Commission Meeting Topic

At tonight’s Decatur City Commission meeting, our commissioners will have to make a determination in a “He Said, She Said” type of case, concerning two live oak trees taken down by Artisan Homes during construction of a new home at 324 Mead Road.

You can read all the details – including a timeline generated by the city’s Development Director Amanda Thompson – of this decision in the meeting material for the meeting HERE (PDF), but in summation (deep breath)…

The City Commission needs to determine whether the city arborist made an error in determining the health of two oak trees on the property and/or do the unique site conditions at 324 Mead Road create an “undue hardship in implementing the required revised tree plan.”

Ms. Thompson’s timeline details the events surrounding this item.  To start, the city arborist determined these two oaks were in good health back in March 2011.  But then in November, they discovered that the tree protection fencing at the property was out of compliance and it was recommended that Artisan Homes hire an arborist to determine if any damage had occurred do to the inadequate fencing.

Artisan hired an Arborguard arborist, who subsequently determined that the trees were in poor health prior to construction activities.  As a result, Artisan Homes submitted a revised tree plan requesting the removal of these trees based on these findings.

The city’s arborist approved the revision, but required that Artisan compensate the city for the loss of the two trees in the amount of $6,325.  Artisan then filed an appeal to the Development Director to seek relief from paying the tree recompense based on the disputed claims of the two arborists. Ms. Thompson sided with the city arborist and now it’s up to the City Commission to have the last word.

Should be an interesting conversation.

18 thoughts on “Arborist vs. Arborist – A Decatur City Commission Meeting Topic”


  1. Several years back, we had a couple big pines taken down in our back yard. There was a massive oak right up next to the house, and we asked the arborist if it should go.
    “That tree will outlive you and me,” he said.
    A year later it fell, crushing the house. (Luckily, we had moved by then, and the new owners were not home at the time.)

    The profession seems much more art than science, I have to say.

    1. Dr. Alex Shigo, a famous teacher of arboriculture, concurs with you. He says the following about aboriculture:
      “Science is an orderly process of collecting, connecting and recording information about natural systems. Science is understanding. Science is mind.

      Art is a process requiring skills to produce a product or performance considered attractive or pleasing. Art is doing. Art is muscle.

      Arboriculture is the cultivation of trees. To cultivate healthy, attractive and safe trees both mind and muscle must be used. Arboriculture is an art and a science.”

  2. There may be some “Arborist on Arborist Crime,” if things aren’t handled correctly. Maybe if they move the proceedings to the Oakhurst Gardens, cooler heads will prevail.

  3. BTW, the appeal was quickly denied you hilarious people.

    Basically, Mr. Baskett and Mayor Floyd pointed out that all parties agreed to the original tree ordinance, which recognized that the tree was healthy. So any sort of observation 8 months after the fact is sort of moot.

  4. They are water oaks…basically trash trees and at that size on their way out. In an environment like Decatur they probably live 80 to 100 years…how old is the house? Take em out! Plant a white oak or even a tulip poplar, at least they can live to be 400!

  5. There may be such a thing as a “trash tree” (personally, I don’t like cherry laurels) but I don’t think water oaks are among them. They are beautiful trees.

    1. Water oaks are notoriously weak wooded (they grow to fast), they start to drop branches when they get big, and they are just short lived trees. This is why you never see them planted much any more. Cant even find them at the home depot! They are as useless as Bradford pears…

      They may have nice form, but don’t plant one for your grandkids…

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