Some Atlanta homeowners say the city makes it too hard to cut down danger trees.

Log by log, David Packwood cleaned up storm debris outside his home on Tuesday. It’s a chore he’s grown used to for years.

“Since I’ve lived here, I’ve seen the street closed 10 times at least from trees down…there’s always something,” he said.

As Irma passed through the area on Monday, trees knocked out electricity on Packwood’s street.

Packwood believes the city’s tree ordinance exacerbates the problem.

The city requires homeowners to get permission before cutting any tree down.

"I’m all for preserving the trees, it’s what makes Morningside beautiful,” he said. “But it’s becoming a little bit of a problem."

Jonathan Potts runs Gunnison Tree Specialists.

"Whether it’s dead, diseased, hazardous, leaning -- anything you might think a reason for it to come down, if it’s over those sizes, you have to have a permit,” Potts said.

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To obtain a permit, you must submit an application to the city of Atlanta. Within five businesses days, an arborist makes an on-site visit. But the city admits online “during heavy volume, turnaround time may be longer”.

At that point, you’ll either be approved or denied and then there's appeal with the Tree Conservation Commission.

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Packwood believes that process takes too long, especially when danger looms.

"Getting a permission for each one of these and the cost for taking it down makes it that people don’t cut them down,” Packwood said. “I won’t.”

The city and some tree removal services, like Gunnison, say strict rules preserve Atlanta’s notoriety as the city in the trees.

“There are very few cities, if any , that can rival what we have in Atlanta,” Potts said. "It prevents just straight out clearance of land and different things like that that would take away what we have here.”

Gunnison Tree Specialists suggests taking pictures and video, hire a professional tree removal service and still go through the permit process.

Trees that must have permits in Atlanta include all hardwoods that are six inches or larger in diameter.
For pine trees, it’s 12 inches. Those found in violation, the city can find you $500 for the first violation and $1,000 for each following tree.