MM: Tree Ordinance Update, Parkwood Annexation Supporters Turn Out, and What Dogs are For

King Memorial Station rendering courtesy of Atlanta Business Chronicle

14 thoughts on “MM: Tree Ordinance Update, Parkwood Annexation Supporters Turn Out, and What Dogs are For”

  1. My opposition to this tree ordinance is known; these revisions don’t change anything. They still include the boundary tree provision, the ridiculously expensive escrow account requirement, and now want to require a reason for removal in the allowed 3 tree informational permit. Except, from what I’ve seen, most people don’t just have trees in the middle of their yards that wouldn’t be considered a “boundary tree” based on critical root zone. I wonder how much additional money our taxes have paid the “ordinance consultant” for this round?

    Real world question: My concrete driveway is completely destroyed by my neighbor’s large tree, which is maybe 12 inches from it. The roots run underneath it. My insurance company requires I replace it (and for safety and aesthetic purposes, I want to, too.) The driveway can’t be reconfigured in my front yard (which shouldn’t be necessary, anyway). It’s negatively impacting my property. So, under this tree ordinance, since that would be defined as a boundary tree (which you can’t touch), I would be required to pay multiple thousands of dollars into a 3 year long escrow account (through which the city will receive paid interest) and hope for the best? What if I move? Let’s say the escrow alone requires $8k (not absurd under the examples provided during city commission meetings.) If that’s the case, my driveway replacement just became prohibitively expensive and we’re not even talking paver bricks or stones. I’ve never lived anywhere with such absurdity. Actions like this will turn fixer uppers into money pits.

    If excessive restrictions on residents are passed, the vocal, very niche minority is empowered, and my taxes keep going up, then I’m seriously considering selling. I have a feeling I’m not the only one.

    1. To further your example. Let’s say you replant the boundary tree removed during the driveway replacemnt and the new tree is felled by an ice storm during the 3 year transition period. Are you required to replant and extend your escrow although you didn’t remove the tree and presumably maintained it in accordance with the ordinance? If that extended period runs beyond 5 years, do you forfeit your escrow? As written, the answer to both of those questions is yes.

      You raise a really interesting point about sales of homes. Let’s say you are transferred 2 years after you replant and have to sell. In theory, you could require the purchaser to reimburse you for escrowed funds and assume the obligations. But, what purchaser is going to agree to that? As a seller, you no longer have any control over the health of the tree, but your money will remain at risk.

      Here is another example. You want to expand your home and so you are required to obtain a LDP. Do you measure “no net loss” before or after you remove your three “free” trees? If the latter, no net loss will likely not trigger a replanting obligation except for the most covered lots. But, the former will make expansions cost prohibitive.

      Setting aside the fundamental property rights issues, there are so many practical flaws with this ordinance as to render it unenforcable. And those pesky property rights alone are enough of a reason to not pass this.

      1. My lot is 64′ wide. In the front, there’s a walkway from the street (old streetcar suburb style), driveways bookending it, and multiple power lines running across. In the rear, the driveway continues and there are some mature trees.

        Following the proposed required distances from buildings, driveways, walkways, power lines, distance from the street, spacing for roots, etc., there is literally nowhere that you could plant the style or size tree they propose. I bet most people are in a similar situation. The aforementioned neighboring tree is on a tiny front lot that wouldn’t allow for planting, according to the same guidelines, especially not a medium to large tree. In the case of my driveway, what would they propose? I pay even more into the tree bank? How much am I up to now? Municipalities normally are supposed to ensure that residents aren’t putting undue burden and financial risk on one another. This started out as a simple driveway and I’m approaching $15k plus quickly.

        My point is, besides arguments about property rights, lack of consensus over a problem, disregarding majority will, and undue financial burden, this just isn’t feasible.

    2. Assuming your description and interpretation are spot on, this is nothing but horrible. 50 foot lot – how the heck are any of the tress just mine.

      1. According to the ordinance preamble, the city has deemed trees a “community resource”. So, they are no longer your trees if this passes.

    3. Sadly, it is probably cheaper in the long run for you to pay your neighbor if they are willing to remove the tree as part of their 3 free trees prior to your driveway project. You’d then save yourself having to do a tree conservation plan (assuming no other trees near the driveway), and from having to do the escrow and any weirdness during a sale prior to the end of the escrow period.

      1. That would make sense, right? I offered last year, then got screamed at for removing trees on my own property.

        My experience, both here and elsewhere, is that these groups spend a lot of time obsessing over what others are doing and relentlessly push a control-oriented agenda.

        If this passes the City Commission, don’t be surprised if other proposals pop up.

        1. “spend a lot of time obsessing over what others are doing and relentlessly push a control-oriented agenda”

          Yes. Stated good intentions are usually just a cover for the desire to control.

  2. Back when we first began this discussion, I started out thinking that some added protection of our canopy in the existing tree ordinances would be a good thing, but that was before I realized common sense would be left out of the equation in these revisions. SMH. The City just needs to leave well enough alone, and table this tree ordinance for good. This “boundary tree” business alone (i.e., the seemingly endless parade of unintended consequences that would affect just about everything someone wants to do with their property) creates so many potential problems that compliance may be impossible. I’m through.

  3. Not to thread jack, but just wanted to give a local shout-out to Congressman Hank Johnson and did not know where else to put it. He’s introduced a bill to help stop the growing militarization of local police, who have been acquiring surplus MRAP armored vehicles as they are retired from service in Iraq and Afghanistan. Kudos Hank.

    1. Kudos indeed. But I wonder if he just thinks all those heavy vehicles will make Georgia break off into the ocean and flip over?

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