The Dunwoody City Council approved Oct. 9 a new permitting process that regulates tree removal on non-residential properties that are not undergoing construction.

Before the Oct. 9 vote, the city’s tree ordinance only addressed tree removal for land developments and substantial construction projects.

Now if a non-residential property wants to remove trees, the owner must apply for a permit with the city and pay a fee of $25 for each five trees they want to cut down. A tree removal permit is not required if the tree is dead, dying, diseased or hazardous or if it necessary to cut down the tree for right-of-way maintenance, for example.

The idea for an amendment to the tree ordinance was brought into focus after representatives from Perimeter Mall approached the city earlier this year about wanting to cut down 69 specimen understory trees along the Ashford-Dunwoody Road side of the mall.

After talks with city officials, the mall decided not to cut down the trees. But the mall request shined a light on a loophole in the ordinance. The mall managers could have cut down the 69 trees without a permit because the tree removal was unrelated to any kind of construction permits.

According to City Arborist Amanda Corr, the mall wanted to cut down crape myrtle trees on the side of the mall facing Ashford-Dunwoody Road, along the road and right in front of the mall entrance and to the right side of the mall entrance.

The mall instead ended up pruning the big hardwoods along Ashford-Dunwoody Road and the city worked with them to not cut back too much or over prune, said city officials. The trees proposed for removal are healthy and have been there since the 1970s when the mall was built.