Atlanta Park Is The City’s Latest Battleground Over Trees

Credit Stephannie Stokes / WABE
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There’s a lot of new development in Atlanta these days, and with it often comes worries about trees. When construction goes up, trees on private land tend to come down.

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And now in a park in Peachtree Hills, a neighborhood in south Buckhead, forest on public land is a concern too.

In the center of Peachtree Hills Park, there’s a playing field and a community garden, and at the border are trees. That’s where Laura Dobson stands, looking at a handful of pines, birches and an oak.

“There are nine interior trees that are wholly owned by the park,” Dobson said.

Dobson’s worried about them. A developer has proposed cutting the trees down to make way for a private storm water drain.

Dobson said, this comes as builders are already taking away hundreds of other trees from private lots right along Peachtree Hills Avenue.

“If you just look at the park, it looks like maybe this is an exaggeration of concern,” Dobson said. “But when you put it in the context of 800 trees coming down at one time, it brings these park trees to a much greater importance.”

Ashton Woods, the developer behind the proposal, said in a statement that “the removal of trees is never easy.”

But the company is building a series of townhomes next door, and the city requires the storm water drain. Sending it through the park was the least disruptive option for the community.

Dobson still thinks alternatives should be explored. And she said, the city should draw a line at public land, even if only nine trees are at stake.

“I think Atlanta is so focused on development and making things bigger that we are sacrificing making things better,” Dobson said.

The proposal goes before the Atlanta City Council later this month.