Inquirer: Not every fallen tree needs to be cleaned up

mowen@ledger-enquirer.comJanuary 5, 2014 

Mike Owen/mowen@ledger-enquirer.comThe fallen pine in this Tillinghurst Road yard may or may not be in violation of a city ordinance.

If a tree falls and there's no ordinance, does it make an Inquirer?

Maybe.

A Concened Reader emailed me a while back about a property on Tillinghurst Road, which is a little arc of a road off Morris Road near Forrest. It has only a few houses on it, but one of them, the one at 2005 Tillinghurst, has seen better days.

It appears vacant and computer records show that the owner lives somewhere else in town, and there is no homestead exemption taken on it.

If it's rental property, good luck renting it.

From the street, the house looks to be in decent shape, but you can't tell much from that far away. The yard is overgrown in front and to the left of the house. But that's not the deal breaker. It also has at least one large pine down and very dead in the front yard, which was the main reason for my Concerned Reader's concern.

So I called Special Enforcement Officer Brandt Poole, who said he would send an officer out to see if the property is violating any city ordinances. I asked him specifically about the downed tree and he said it might or might not be in violation.

"We have an ordinance about cut trees. If you cut a tree down, you must remove it," Poole said. "But we really don't have an ordinance for a fallen tree, not unless it damages the house."

So if a tree falls in the yard, the property owner doesn't have to clean it up?

"The problem is there are so many properties around, even wooded lots, that have trees falling down," Poole explained. "If we made every fallen tree illegal, we would be going around giving warnings to just about everybody in town who owns property."

OK, that makes sense. And it also rang a bell. Back in 2011, I wrote about a house on Acacia Drive that had a big oak down in its yard. In that case, the owner had started cutting the tree down but stopped, then just left sawn limbs all over the yard.

In that case, the city cited him and he cleaned up his yard.

From the street, it's impossible to tell if the Tillingham tree fell or not, so we'll wait and see what Special Enforcement says.

Stay tuned.

Update

Speaking of cutting down trees, you'll recall that the city recently took down an oak near Jordan High School because it was past its prime to the point of being dangerous. And you'll remember that they had to leave a three-foot chunk of it hanging there because it had grown around a guy wire to a Georgia Power utility pole.

And you'll recall that I said I bet the power company folks would be on it like a duck on a junebug, because that's what they do.

And that's what they did, thank you very much.

Seen something that needs attention? Contact me at 706-571-8570 or mowen@ledger-enquirer.com.

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