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Section 158-106: Preconstruction Conference

No precontruction conference means protected trees are not being saved.

Section 158-106 mandates an on-site conference between the developer and the arborist for a final tree fence inspection before demolition, grading, or construction begins. With no preconstruction conferences, developers have been allowed to grade lots, cut down trees, and refuse to put up tree fences, often before the preliminary approval of tree removal (yellow sign posting) is completed.

Sec. 158-106.  Preconstruction conference. Upon approval of any permit for grading, demolition or construction, no work shall commence, no grading shall be undertaken and no trees shall be removed prior to a preconstruction conference on the site between the city arborist and the applicant or their designees. The city arborist shall inspect the site to assure the accuracy of permit application data and shall inspect tree protection fences and other protective devices which have been installed to protect trees. After the inspection is complete, the city arborist shall notify the director, and thereupon demolition, grading and construction may proceed. It is further provided that for any permit for an addition to a one-family or two-family residence, the city arborist may rely on data submitted in the application and certified by the applicant for the building permit in lieu of a preconstruction conference on the site. (Code 1977, § 10-2037(h); Ord. No. 2001-102, § 2, 12-11-01; Ord. No. 2003-03, §§ 1, 2, 1-13- 03)

Preconstruction Conference Status Update:

February 2, 2019:  Elizabeth Johnson, Project Manager with the Department of Planning told the Reporter Newspapers that "We are implementing this [preconstruction conference] practice based on available resources and staffing. Currently, pre-demolition inspections are required on every site. In addition, we have posted a job advertisement for a staff arborist to increase staff resources.”

November 8, 2018:  Kathy Evans, Senior Administrative Analyst for the Atlanta Tree Conservation Commission wrote an email to David Zaparanick which said, "We are in the process of establishing the standards for this [preconstruction conference] practice and will submitted [sic] to the Tree Conservation Commission for review."

October 28, 2018:  David Zaparanick, Arboricultural Manager for the City of Atlanta wrote an email to Stephanie Coffin, TTND member, which said, "At this time, demolition permits only are required to have a pre-demolition inspection, because of a lack of field arborists to cover all permits reviewed in the Arborist Division."  David provided in the email the current standard of practice with regard to pre-demolition inspections and said that he would submit the procedure and process to the TCC at the next business meeting, November 14, 2018.

Our Response:

The problem with having only a pre-demolition inspection is that not every construction project is proceeded by a demolition, and even when there is demolition, site plans and property ownership can change before construction begins.  The trees impacted by demolition are often very different from the trees impacted by construction.  Unless the demolition and construction site plans are exactly the same, a separate preconstruction conference in addition to the pre-demolition conference is necessary.

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