All of us who love the Atlanta area’s greenery are disturbed to see the appearance of the area changing so quickly and dramatically.  City and county governments have responded by creating local ordinances which frequently limit the number of trees that homeowners may remove.

Permits similar to construction permits must be obtained in most parts of the Atlanta metro area prior to beginning tree removal.  Generally, it is the responsibility of the homeowner to do this; practically, the tree service may facilitate the paperwork.  Below is a list summarizing local regulations and contacts.

This is provided as a convenience and is not warranted as accurate.  Please verify with local authority.

Counties

None.
Permit if over 5/year (dead or dying tree does not count) or any specimen tree (>30″ DBH overstory tree and >10″ DBH understory).  Contact county arborist at 404-678-3949 or  planninganddevelopment@dekalbcountyga.gov.  Additional details.  County arborist: India Woodson, 404-371-2685.
Permit for specimen trees only (any tree > 27″ DBH).  Contact Gene Calloway, 404-730-7800.

Generally speaking, county removal ordinances are “loosely” administered.

If you are within any of the city limits of those listed to the right, you definitely want to pay attention to those.  The city requirements will satisfy the county as they are all more restrictive than the county.

Of particular note, take special care for tree removal in the cities of:

  • Atlanta (>6″ DBH – dead OR alive)
  • Alpharetta (ANY tree – dead OR alive)
  • Sandy Springs

You also need to remember any HOA covenants regarding tree removal and possibly pruning (i.e. NO topping).

Cities

Permit for any tree, dead or alive with > 6″ DBH (> 12″ for pines).  An online application can be submitted.  Physical inspection by city arborist assigned by geography, 404-330-6078. The complete ordinance as well as additional information regarding the appeal process.
Permit for any tree, dead or alive.  Specimen and density are protected.  Specimen is 24″ DBH (overstory), 30″ (pine) and 8″ (understory).  Density is trees on at least 30% of total plantable area.  Additional details and online application.  Contact David Shostak, 678-297-6200.
No permit for privately owned 1 or 2 family residence.
Historic districts only.  Contact Amanda Thompson, 404-370-4104.
Permit for any tree; obtained from city with cost of $50/location.
Application for any removal and letter from certified arborist if >24″ DBH (hardwood) and >30″ DBH (softwood).  Other restrictions on flood plain and remaining density can be found in the actual code (when you get there, go to Chapter 16 and Section II).  Contact Howard Koontz, 678-382-6811.
Permit for dead/dying/hazardous specimen trees only; obtained from city with $75 fee.  Specimen tree is hardwood >24″ and pine >27″.  If not dead/dying/hazardous, residential is permitted up to 4 specimen removals per year with additional $20/tree fee – over 4 requires tree replacement plan.  Contact 404-270-7212.
Generally only for developers. “Singular residential lot” are exempt.  Details here.
Permit required for any specimen tree (>26″ DBH for hardwood, >23″ DBH for softwood, >9″ for small flowering) or if required for zoning.  Additional details.  Permit Application.  Contact Mark Law, City Arborist, 678-242-2552.
Permit for any tree with application signed by certified arborist or forester.
Permit for any specimen tree OR any lot >1 acre.  Specimen trees are 24″ (hardwood), 30″ (pine), 10″ (small flowering).  Contact Andy Pittner, 770-594-6293.
Permit for any non-dead/dying/hazardous tree >= 18″ DBH.  Additional details.  Contact Michael Barnett, 770-730-5600.
None if residential/duplex under 2 acres.