How Gwinnett County regulates tree removal

So I get asked this a lot:

Do I need a permit to remove trees in Gwinnett County?

Yes. and No. It's a little complicated.  Gwinnett county has a comprehensive tree ordinance, called the Gwinnett County Tree and Landscape Buffer ordinance.  It contains all the guidelines for tree replacement and tree protection during land development activities.  This ordinance helps maintain the tree cover in Gwinnett (over time) by requiring minimum standards for reforestation after land clearing, and also protects natural buffers between differing zoning types.  For example, the ordinance may require an undisturbed buffer between a new commercial district that borders a residential subdivision.  The ordinance also defines what a Specimen tree is and how they are to be protected.

However, an informational memo published in March 2011 asks that homeowners contact the Department of Planning and Development prior to removal of Specimen trees.  The memo also notes that homeowners cannot remove trees without a permit, if the tree is in a designated buffer, the Chattahoochee River Corridor, or Tree save area.

Outside of the above restrictions, homeowners do not need a permit to remove trees at their homes in Gwinnett County.  If you are in an incorporated part of Gwinnett, such as Norcross or Suwannee, the County Tree ordinance is superseded by the local ordinance.  Be sure to check your City ordinances first!

- Posted by Jesse Milton

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