Mayor and Council get tough on commercial tree cutters

SNELLVILLE – Mayor and Council updated an ordinance that will make the penalty for unwarranted tree removal by commercial property owners tougher on the purse strings Monday.

The fine for cutting down trees without permission once carried a minimum penalty of $356 per tree per day. Under the new measure, violators would pay $995 per tree per day. Also under the new ordinance is the provision that removal of any tree without approval from the city’s Planning Director is prohibited.

However, if the ordinance is to be successful, residents must notify the city if they see suspicious tree cutting at a local business, Mayor Pro Tem Barbara Bender said.

“It’s back ended,” Bender said of the ordinance update. “It penalizes (businesses) after the action occurs. We won’t know that until the instance has occurred. We need your help.”

The move was made after several local businesses cut down trees without permission recently and it was determined if financial penalties were higher, the business would be less apt to cut trees down.

“In spite of Snellville’s long-standing ordinances prohibiting the arbitrary removal of trees, we have recently had some violations of those ordinances,” Councilman Dave Emanuel said after the ordinance update was proposed earlier this year. “While some violators plead ignorance, I believe they were in fact subscribing to the philosophy that it’s easier to ask for forgiveness than permission. It may be easier, but it will become a lot more expensive. We will also be updating all business property owners of our revised tree removal requirements and fine amount. Our intent is not to raise revenue, but to preserve our trees.”

If you think a commercial business is cutting down a tree without permission, call the Snellville Planning Department at 770-985-3513.

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