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Tree Removal Permits

When is a Tree Removal Permit required?
A Tree Removal Permit is required when a tree meets one of the following categories and is being removed independent of any construction activity:

  • Any tree 18" Diameter at Breast Height (DBH) or larger
  • Any Dogwood or Redbud 10″ DBH or larger
  • Any tree located within the Chattahoochee River Corridor (2,000’ from the banks of the Chattahoochee River)
  • Any tree located a within a Stream Buffer (the 75′ protection corridor along designated streams and bodies of water)

If a mix of healthy and dead or hazardous trees will be removed, a Tree Removal Permit is still required.

When is a Tree Removal Permit NOT required?
A Tree Removal Permit is not required if the tree is dead, hazardous, or structurally defective. You must send an Arborist Report to the City Arborist at arborist@sandyspringsga.gov for approval before the tree is removed. This should be prepared by an ISA Certified Arborist.  If the tree is visibly dead (i.e., no leaves present during the summer), you may send in a description of the tree and photos documenting its condition to the City Arborist in lieu of the Arborist Report for approval before the tree is removed.

Please prepare a Tree Conservation Plan instead of applying for a Tree Removal Permit if the removal is associated with construction activities (grading, pool construction, patios, additions, etc.).  The Tree Conservation Plan should be prepared in accordance with the Tree Conservation Ordinance (Div. 9.3 of the Development Code) and submitted with your construction documents for staff approval before the tree is removed.

Who can apply for a Tree Removal Permit?
Homeowners, property owners, and/or commercial tree removal company representatives can apply for a Tree Removal Permit.

Applying For a Tree Removal Permit

You can apply for a permit online at Build Sandy Springs. Build Sandy Springs is where you can complete your application, submit supporting documents, pay invoices, and view your current permit status.

You can also Schedule an Appointment via QLess to meet with one of our Permit Technicians at City Hall for further assistance with your application.

Application Documents

  • Tree Removal Permit Application
  • Pictures: Pictures should indicate the condition of the trees to be removed. 
  • Tree Drawing: Provide a drawing locating all trees 18” DBH and larger.  Indicate which ones are to be removed with an X.  The drawing can be hand drawn or a map print out.  You can find a map of your property on the Fulton County Tax Assessor website.
  • Arborist Report (if applicable): If several of the trees are dead or hazardous, provide an Arborist Report.  A hazardous tree is defined as a tree that is at risk of failure because the tree is dead or structurally defective.   This should be prepared by an ISA certified arborist and include a description of each tree, issues present with each tree, and photos documenting the issues of each tree.  You can locate a certified arborist at treesaregood.org.

Measuring Tree Diameter

Diameter at Breast Height, or DBH, is the standard method of expressing the diameter of a tree trunk. To determine the DBH of a tree, measure the circumference of the tree trunk at a height of 4.5 feet from the ground. If the tree is on a slope, measure from the highest ground level. You can calculate diameter by dividing the circumference by 3.14.

Chattahoochee River Corridor and Stream Buffers

Please search for your address using the Community Development Map to determine if the River Corridor or any Stream Buffers apply to your property.  Use the Layers on the right side of your screen to toggle on “StreamBufferQuickDraw.”  You can also drop down the "Hydrology Details" layer and open "River Corridor" to see the corresponding map symbol.

The Chattahoochee River Corridor includes property 2,000’ from the banks of the Chattahoochee River, and Stream Buffers are the the 75′ protection corridor along designated streams and bodies of water.  Land disturbance and construction are heavily regulated in these areas and may even be restricted depending on how close the project site is to the body of water.

Identifying Landmark Trees

The following are considered Landmark Trees in Sandy Springs if they are in fair or better condition:

  • A hardwood tree 27" Diameter at Breast Height (DBH) or larger
  • A pine tree 30” Diameter at Breast Height (DBH) or larger
  • A dogwood or redbud tree 10” Diameter at Breast Height (DBH) or larger

Landmark Trees must be replaced at 150% of the lost canopy. The compensation for the lost Tree Canopy is calculated on a square foot basis. If, however, the City Arborist determines that replacement is not practical, then payment may be made into the Sandy Springs Tree Fund in lieu of planting trees.

Canopy Coverage Requirements

All sites within the City must contain the following minimum tree canopy coverage. Residential land use is required to have 35% canopy coverage and commercial land use is required to have 40% canopy coverage.  Canopy coverage is calculated as a percentage of the entire lot or subdivision. 

Only trees that are 18” DBH or larger, defined as Protected Trees, provide canopy coverage at 1,000 square feet / tree. When a proposed removal of Protected Trees causes the site to go below minimum canopy coverage requirements or if the site is currently not meeting the minimum canopy coverage requirements, the applicant must pay into the City's Tree Fund and replant new trees to bring the site into compliance.  Payment is required at $1,200 per 1,000 square feet of canopy deficit (i.e. $1,200 per Protected Tree removed) and replacement trees are required to be replanted at one replacement tree per one Protected Tree removed.

The removal of Landmark Trees, regardless of the amount of canopy coverage provided on the property, requires replacement plantings at 1.5 trees per every Landmark Tree removed. 

The Replacement Trees for Protected Trees and Landmark Trees are required to be a minimum of 2.5” caliper and a species that will provide comparable canopy potential to the tree removed.  Replacement trees must be maintained for three full growing seasons.  Refer to Section 1 of the Sandy Springs Technical Manual for more details on canopy coverage requirements and a list of approved replacement tree species.

Contact the City Arborist

For further assistance, please call 770-730-5600 and ask to speak with the City Arborist or reach out via email at arborist@sandyspringsga.gov.

 

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