City of Decatur Approves Tree Protection Ordinance Update

After a two year process the City of Decatur unanimously adopted updates to its tree protection ordinance on January 18, 2022. Decatur currently has one of the strongest TPO’s in the region, and this update aims to increase the city’s tree canopy to 65%. This manifests as a 15% increase for single-family lots increasing the requirement from 45% to 60%. On January 11th, the Planning Commission voted 4-2 for denial of the ordinance update citing the lack of discretion and regulatory burden these changes would have on individual property rights, cost burden of compliance, and homeowners’ residential use of their lot. Even so, Commissioners moved to approve the ordinance and its ambitious conservation goals. Updates to the ordinance, which will take effect on March 21 of this year, also include:

  • Removal of regulatory language allowing 3 tree removals, regardless of condition, every 18 months
  • Updated fees using the National Tree Benefit Calculator
  • Changes to replacement tree requirements
  • Prohibiting entire clear cut of lots
  • Pre-permit meeting with city arborist to review replanting

Additionally, City Commissioners approved a resolution to hire an additional arborist.

Given the housing shortage and affordability crisis metro Atlanta is currently facing, these regulatory changes have the ability to further exacerbate these issues. The regulatory balance of  economic and environmental sustainability of the region’s communities continues to be a top priority at the Council for Quality Growth. We are committed to finding solutions to ensure quality growth.

Please find additional information regarding the updates below:

Tree Canopy Conservation Ordinance – Administrative Standards

O-22-Z-AA: Ordinance Amending Article 9. Environmental Protection Section 9.1 Tree Protection

O-22-Z-BB: Ordinance Amending Article 12. Definitions Section 12.1 Defined Terms

Tree Ordinance Update Outline, Flowchart, and Development Scenarios