New Decatur tree ordinance gets first test

Decatur’s new tree ordinance, passed last May, is getting its first test.

St. Claire Holdings LLC purchased three lots on Forkner Drive with the intention of building 25 townhomes. After reviewing St. Claire’s revised plans Monday, Landscape Infrastructure Coordinator India Woodson said she couldn’t approve them because the development still “infringes on the critical root zones” of neighboring properties threatening the survival of those trees.

Woodson said this doesn’t mean the project’s dead. St. Claire can go before John Maximuk, the city’s Director of Design, Environment and Construction, as a precursor to going before the Zoning Board of Appeals.

Ultimately the developer could file a lawsuit in the state’s Superior Court. She added, however, on this point the ordinance is clear. “Boundary trees were a big part of the debate when this ordinance was being created,” Woodson said. “It think it’s probable that before [the ordinance was passed] this project would’ve gone through.