Brookhaven City Council on Aug. 11 delayed changing the city’s controversial tree-preservation ordinance after hearing questions from both tree advocates and a pro-development group.

Councilman Joe Gebbia moved to defer any decision to the Aug. 25 council meeting, and the council unanimously agreed. He added that the council likely will seek even stronger restrictions than are proposed in the latest revision.

The proposed changes to the year-old tree ordinance have not changed much since they were first presented to the council last month. A key provision is requiring developers to maintain 120 inches—in diameter—of trees per acre or 45 percent of the site’s tree-canopy cover. That’s a boost from 100 inches per acre.

Gebbia said he thinks the “council’s will” is going to lean more toward 130 inches per acre and 50 percent of canopy coverage.

One of several other changes is restricting homeowners to removing only three non-hazardous trees per year.

Kathryn Kolb, director of EcoAddendum, a nonprofit that is consulting with local tree advocates, said the tree ordinance revision is a good effort. But, she added, it has “a lot of contradictions” and a “number of loopholes,” including a compensation system for tree removals whose various options are not necessarily equivalent.

James Touchton of the Council for Quality Growth, an advocacy group for developers, also called for a deferral to further consider the changes.

John Ruch

John Ruch is an Atlanta-based journalist. Previously, he was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.