Fairway approves removal of diseased feature tree in right-of-way on Suwanee Road

The Fairway City Council on Tuesday morning unanimously approved the removal of a feature tree in the right-of-way along Suwanee Road.

City staff had KC Arborist, the city’s long-time arborist, evaluate a 43-inch round tree with a large cavity about 20-feet off the ground. The arborist determined the tree to be structurally compromised as the result of a disease, and recommended its removal as soon as possible.

Although the city worked with the homeowner — who called the city concerned about debris that fell out of the tree’s cavity — a neighbor contacted the city the night before the tree was to be removed because the neighbor was not consulted. Public Works Director Bill Stogsdill said it is not the city’s practice to consult adjacent homeowners about tree removal, only the homeowner immediately affected by the tree.

City Administrator Nathan Nogelmeier said city staff understands the value trees bring to residents, the city and the neighborhoods. Fairway prides itself on the money spent to maintain the “tree canopy as an urban forest,” and decisions to remove trees are not taken lightly, he said.

“I want to be clear: We’re the city of trees,” Nogelmeier said. “I think our staff has proven we are pretty diligent when it comes to the protection of our right-of-way trees. We’re one of the only cities that has this kind of ordinance in the metropolitan area.”

Fairway’s tree ordinance currently states the city council must approve the removal of feature trees, like the one on Suwanee Road, that are 30-inches round or larger. Nogelmeier and Stogsdill said the city council should keep an eye out for modifications or additions to the tree ordinance to streamline the process so special city council meetings are not required for these situations.

Stogsdill said the neighbor who contacted the city about not being consulted brought in an outside arborist to get a second opinion on the tree. The outside arborist came to the same conclusion and recommended the tree be removed. Stogsdill said whenever an outside arborist is called, they have never conflicted with the original recommendation from KC Arborist.