DECATUR, Ga. --The future landscape of the city of Decatur will be up for debate tonight.
The city council is considering two, 90-day moratoriums to halt the cutting of trees and tearing down single family homes.
This comes as the city is in the midst of developing a united development ordinance or UDO.
City Manager Peggy Merriss said residents have been very vocal on those two issues, and city officials want input.
The discussion comes as Decatur is seeing an uptick in new home construction.
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For instance, on Sycamore Drive, you see a number of small homes that are for sale. On other lots that have sold, those smaller homes are torn down and replaced with larger two and sometimes three story houses that take up much more of the lot.
Many times developers take out large trees to make room and that has some residents upset.
"It will take a hundred years to replace some of the mature, historical trees we've lost recently," said resident Annie Archbold.
According to City Planner Amanda Thompson tree removal is allowed on private property.
"The only time it is a concern is if the tree is in an historical district. If that's the case, the property owner has to go before the historic preservation committee for approval,"said Thompson.
With new construction, developers are also required to keep 25 percent of the prevailing trees on the lot or pay a fine.
Archbold believes it is time for city officials to considering toughening up the tree ordinances.
"I think when you have these huge trees and you want to cut them down the neighborhoods should be able to have some sort of conversation. There should be some sort of ordinance where they go in front of a tree board and debate the reasons why," said Archbald.
City manager Peggy Merriss welcomes a 90 day moratorium on cutting trees so the city can get a handle on real figures.
"We'd like to gather the actual numbers of trees that we're losing to new construction versus those that are being removed because of old age or disease," said Merriss.
Merriss said residents seem split 50-50 on strengthening the tree ordinances.
"One one side are those who think we're losing our mature canopy for no good reason. ON the other side, you have folks who truly believe you have a right to do what you want with your property and government shouldn't limit those rights," said Merriss.
As for the tearing down of older single family homes and building newer, bigger ones that appears to also be a contentious issue.
"Some feel the bigger homes ruin Decatur's small, bungalow home feel. Others see it as progress because more people want to move here and build their dream homes,' said Merriss.
In fact, last week the American Planning Association named downtown Decatur as a top 10 great neighborhood. Only two other local areas received that award-Ansley Park in Atlanta and Savannah.
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