The Dunwoody mayor and City Council are considering a permit requirement to remove trees in the city’s 75-foot stream buffer as residential and commercial developments continue to encroach on the buffer.

Punishment for removing a tree without a permit could result in a $1,000 fine per tree.

Amendments to the Tree Preservation ordinance include: new verbiage stating a tree removal permit is required for the removal of any tree located within the city’s 75-foot stream buffer; adding language that specific information, such as photographs, of dead, diseased or hazardous trees must be submitted along with a report from an outside arborist before a tree is cut down; and adding language that prohibits people from intentionally or unintentionally damaging, cutting, carving, transplanting or removing a tree within the stream buffer.

City Arborist Amanda Corr said the city receives weekly phone calls and emails from residents questioning or concerned about trees being removed from the stream buffer. The amendments are intended to allay concerns while also protecting trees in the buffer. In the past two years, the city has received 26 complaints about trees being cut down in the stream buffer.

Corr also explained that sometimes people intentionally damage a tree to kill it so they can legally cut it down. The amendments are also intended to address the “chasm” between city code and how code enforcement can respond to complaints, Corr said.

Councilmember Lynn Deutsch said it is important residents with property along a stream buffer be made aware of the rules. “If we’re going to move toward enforcement, I think we should send communication about what’s expected,” she said.

“Education is imperative on this,” Corr agreed.

Stream buffers are important because they play a vital role in providing water quality, tree canopy, wildlife habitat and recreation areas for residents, Olson said in a memo to the City Council.

Dyana Bagby is a staff writer for Reporter Newspapers and Atlanta Intown.