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Decatur holding open house to discuss changes to its tree ordinance


Decatur holding open house to discuss changes to its tree ordinance

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Backyard water oak. Photo by Kathryn Kolb, courtesy of Trees Decatur


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This story has been updated. 

The Decatur City Commission strengthened protections for trees five years ago and now city officials are considering making those protections stronger.

On Monday, March 25, the city will have a Tree Ordinance Update Open House from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the Public Works Community Room, located at 2635 Talley Street.

“Hear proposed ordinance changes, share your thoughts, help define community forestry goals, and discuss it all with city staff during this open community workshop,” the meeting announcement says.

Deputy City Manager Hugh Saxon said over the years issues with the ordinance have cropped up that need to be revisited.

“I think there’s a concern, I would suppose, that too many trees are being removed,” Saxon said. “I think the amendments being considered are a way to try and protect high value trees.”

One idea being discussed is modifying the regulations to specify what trees can be counted toward the total tree canopy of someone’s property.

“As an example, right now a tree on a neighbor’s property that provides canopy over your property, which is not uncommon, is counted towards canopy on your property,” Saxon said. “That would be eliminated in some of the recommendations being considered, so only trees on your property can be used to provide the required canopy.”

Another problem the city wants to address is the damage to tree roots caused by workers installing utility lines in a property.

“People will install utilities by trenching,” Saxon said. “You’re putting in a water line and sewer line and you trench through the critical root zone of a tree. That does not help the tree. That is a good way to damage or kill a tree. In cases like that, where each tree is to be preserved, they’d have to use [a process of] boring under the roots of the tree. A lot of these changes will be to help preserve healthy high value trees that are already existing on properties in Decatur.”

Saxon encouraged people interested in this topic to attend Monday’s Open House. He also provided a Power Point presentation about the proposed changes, which you can read by clicking here. An important note about this presentation: the existing ordinance text is in black and the proposed changes are in blue.

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