Q&A on the News

Q: Falling trees in the metro area during the storms have made us nervous. We have tall trees in our backyard and would like to cut them down to reduce the risk. What are the laws? Do we need permission prior to cutting? If yes, from whom and how?

-- Azhar Syed, Lilburn

A: Homeowners don't need a tree removal permit unless the tree is in a required zoning buffer, conservation or open space, the Chattahoochee River Corridor or designated tree save area, according to the Gwinnett County Department of Planning and Development. If you aren't sure if your property includes a buffer, conservation, open space or tree save area, you can obtain a copy of the final plat of your subdivision from the Deed Records Office of the Clerk of Superior Court (770-822-8150). If you remove live trees from your property, it is a requirement you keep at least two of them and any specimen trees on your lot. Specimen trees include hardwoods that are 28 inches or larger in diameter, evergreens that are 30 inches or larger and flowering trees that are 12 inches or larger.

Q: All four of the rest areas were closed on I-20 between Atlanta and Augusta on March 17. What was the reason for these closures?

-- Margaret Kasper, Tucker

A: Maintenance and janitorial issues required the closures, a Georgia Department of Transportation representative told Q&A on the News in an e-mail. The problems were "quickly resolved," and the facilities were reopened.

Lori Johnston wrote this column. Do you have a question about the news? We’ll try to get the answer. Call 404-222-2002 or e-mail q&a@ajc.com (include name, phone and city).