Outlined below are guidelines that will assist you in the lawful removal of trees from public or private property in Augusta-Richmond County, GA. Within this information are the regulations, specific steps, and ordinances regarding the cutting and removal of dead, dying, injured or hazardous trees.
Emergency or Nuisance Trees on Public Property, Sidewalk or City Street
The removal of a dead, dying or hazardous tree on public property or right-of-way should be addressed as follows:
Tree Emergency – If storm-damaged limbs or a diseased fallen tree is encountered in the roadway or public property, the situation should be reported via 3-1-1, and will be handled immediately.
Interfering Tree – Residents should report trees that pose a hazard to utilities and power lines to the City, which will dispatch an arborist to determine if the tree needs to be trimmed back or removed completely.
Public Tree Fallen on Private Property – In the event a tree from public property falls onto private property, the City should be contacted immediately for its removal.
Each of these tree situations can be immediately addressed and resolved via the City of Augusta 311 Service (dial 3-1-1 from within Augusta or (706) 821-2300 otherwise).
City of Augusta Tree Ordinance Regulations
Outside of protected Landmark trees, The City of Augusta does not heavily regulate trees on private property. However, Chapter 8-4-10 of the Augusta Tree Ordinance and Tree Ordinance Illustrated Guide does detail the handling of dangerous trees located on private property as follows:
- If the city determines a tree on private property to be posing imminent danger of falling on public streets, it shall be declared a public nuisance and the property owner will be notified in writing.
- The property owner will have 15 (fifteen) days to initiate correction of the situation.
- If action is not taken within 30 (thirty) days of the notification, the tree commission will take action to to have the nuisance corrected or removed. The cost of this action will be assessed to the property owner.
A tree protection zone has also been established and includes all public rights-of-way and public land within Augusta, Georgia. In addition to public land, the tree ordinance recognizes and extends protection to certain tree species.
Protected Landmark Trees – Within Augusta, Landmark Trees (trees with historical significance, high value or unique character) are considered public landmarks. These species are protected in the Ordinance, and cannot be destroyed or endangered unless otherwise recommended by the Augusta Tree Commission.
Residential Tree Removal Permit Requirements
Residential property owners in Augusta looking to improve their landscape or remove distressed trees should note these tree removal regulations:
- If the tree being considered for removal is on private property (under 1 acre), you are usually exempt from and do not require a removal permit (*Unless the tree in question is a Landmark tree).
- Up to 5 trees may be removed within a calendar year.
Note – There are regulations (minimum tree density and landscape standards) for private property that adjoins a right-of-way. Refer to Section 8-4-11-(e)-(5) for more in depth coverage of this regulation.
Augusta Tree Commission Petition and Variance Requests
If you have a unique situation requiring deviation from the standard ordinance regulations, you will need to complete a petition and be granted a variance approval by the Tree Commission. Requests for variances and appeals must be submitted in writing and include:
- A letter from the property owner/ engineer/ applicant outlining the variance being sought and the applicable sections of the Ordinance from which relief is being sought.
Other duties of the Tree Commission include reviewing and updating the current Tree Ordinance.
Tree Commission Variance Request Process and Application Fee
These are the filing requirements and steps to follow to present your variance request to the Augusta Tree Commission:
1. Complete the City of Augusta Tree Commission Variance Request. Include descriptive narrative and sufficient documentation that your variance request meets at least one of the following criteria:
- There are extraordinary and exceptional conditions regarding the property due its size, shape or topography.
- The enforcement of the ordinance would create unnecessary hardships (monetary considerations are not considered a hardship).
- The conditions of the property involved are peculiar and sufficiently unique.
- Relief, if granted would not cause substantial detriment to the public
2. Your request should include photos, documents and other exhibits necessary to support the variance.
3. Pay the Tree Commission variance fee of $300.00
Upon hearing your request, the Augusta-Richmond County Tree Commission will review, accept, reject or accept with conditions the request for a variance.
Property Development Site Plan Application and Permit Process
This section outlines how developers, builders, and homeowners can submit a site plan and acquire an Augusta Development permit.
When developing a property, a Site Plan Application will be required. To ensure all regulations and disclosures are included, refer to the Site Plan Checklist before submitting your application. Incomplete submittals will be rejected so guarantee full compliance to avoid delaying your review process.
For questions regarding which permits or regulations are required for the activity you are planning, contact the City of Augusta’s Planning and Development Department or dial the City’s 3-1-1 service line.
Augusta Arborist and Planning & Development Contact Information
The Augusta Planning and Development Department can provide further clarification on the tree ordinance, permit, and land development plan requirements. Use the below information to contact the respective city department representative.
Terri Turner – Development Services Administrator
Planning, Zoning and Development
Melanie Wilson – Planning and Development Director
Planning and Development
535 Telfair Street
Augusta, GA 30901
For live troubleshooting or further information, the City of Augusta’s 311 service is also available to you online at http://www.augustaga.gov/1744/Request-a-Service