Atlanta, famed for its lush tree canopy, has a deep appreciation for the value of its urban forest. The trees not only add to the city’s charm but also play a vital role in enhancing air quality, mitigating urban heat, and sustaining local wildlife. To safeguard this vital natural asset, the City of Atlanta has put in place a comprehensive tree ordinance. Whether you’re a homeowner, developer, or an environmentally conscious citizen, grasping the nuances of this ordinance is pivotal for preserving Atlanta’s eco-friendly heritage, and especially useful if you receive a citation for violating it. 

What to do if you are cited for violating Atlanta’s Tree Ordinance

  1. Understand the Violation: Review the citation carefully to understand the specific violation you have been cited for, such as removing or injuring a tree without a permit, failing to follow permit conditions, or damaging protected trees during construction.
  2. Penalties and Fines: The Tree Ordinance imposes penalties and fines for violations. The fine for the first violation is no less than $500, and each subsequent violation carries a fine of $1,000. Each violation is considered a separate offense

  3. Appeal Process: If you believe the citation was issued incorrectly or there was a misinterpretation of the facts, you have the right to appeal the decision. Valid appeals must provide clear evidence, based on the Tree Ordinance, that a city administrative official misinterpreted or misapplied the ordinance.
  • To appeal, contact the Tree Conservation Commission at (404) 330-6235 or visit for instructions.
  • You will have the opportunity to present your case at a public hearing before the Commission
  1. Comply with the Ordinance: If you do not appeal or if your appeal is unsuccessful, you must comply with the ordinance and any corrective actions or penalties imposed. Failure to do so may result in additional fines or legal action.

  2. Obtain Necessary Permits: If the violation involves removing or injuring a tree without a permit, you should immediately apply for the required permit from the City Arborist Division. Follow the application process, which includes submitting an application, undergoing an inspection, and obtaining approval.

  3. Avoid Future Violations: Familiarize yourself with the Tree Ordinance requirements, such as obtaining permits for removing trees above a certain diameter, protecting root save areas during construction, and adhering to tree protection fencing guidelines

It is crucial to take citations seriously and follow the proper procedures to address the violation. Ignoring citations or continuing to violate the ordinance can lead to escalating fines and potential legal consequences.  If you need legal assistance with a citation in violation of the tree ordinance, please contact us.