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Illegal Tree Cutting Continues Despite Fines

By Bruce Gordon

Homebuilder Jody Kell, principal owner of Intown Renewal Developers (IRD), despite being slapped previously with steep penalties for illegal tree-cutting, appears to be continuing this practice.  IRD has taken full advantage of ongoing city redevelopment, particularly in Ormewood Park.

In 2015 the City of Atlanta imposed the maximum fine against the developer who cut down five old hardwood trees from two adjoining residential lots, before failing to obtain appropriate tree-removal permits. Each was estimated to be about 150 years old. Commissioner of Planning and Community Development Tim Keane told WXIA-TV that Intown Renewal Developers were required to pay $11,400.13 for cutting down two white oaks and three poplars in Ormewood Park. Kell declined to comment on the incident to the television station. He says he is working with local organizations to find out where he can plant new trees.

Homeowner Eric Pearson of 1340 Ormewood Avenue reports that in June of   2018 he was notified by Gregory Ihle, Field Inspector for the City of Atlanta Arborist Division, that he wanted to inspect a large, historic tree on Pearson’s property, which closely bordered property owned at the time by Kell and IRD. Mr. Ihle pointed out that a contractor working at the direction of Kell and IRD had destroyed the west-facing roots of said tree, effectively killing it. Kell and IRD were accordingly issued a citation with notice to pay a fine in excess of $1,000. Mr. Pearson states he was surprised and quite disappointed this happened at the hands of a seemingly established and reputable company. He has been advised that legal action against IRD is an option and has engaged a local law firm to assist in recovering damages. Protecting trees and the tree canopy is part of an overall effort by the City of Atlanta to protect neighborhoods in the midst of redevelopment and growth.

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