Neighbors want Atlanta to pay for tree damage

6:43 PM, May 6, 2013   |    comments
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A tree fell on Cahaba Drive in Southwest Atlanta early Sunday.

ATLANTA -- In metro Atlanta where massive trees dominate the landscape, torrential rain and flooding bring the risk of having a trees crashing down on your home, car -- or worse, you.

Torrential rain means even the heartiest trees can quickly come down and destroy everything underneath. But what happens when the tree may be on city property and you've put them on notice?

One Atlanta homeowner is currently dealing with that dilemma.

"Since I moved here in December I have been calling them (City of Atlanta), and city forestry, and everybody else, to take care of these two trees because of my concern," said Paolo Robolo.

But Rubolo says nothing happened.

"I left her a voicemail and told her the tree I was talking about now was sitting on the roof of my house," he added.

So who pays the bill?

Initially the homeowner, but Rubolo wants the City of Atlanta to pay.

"If the tree was dead or looked like it was going to fall or he put the City on notice and let the City know they had to do something he can hold the City liable in the event the tree does damage the house," said Tom Salata, an Atlanta attorney.

Jasen Johns is a Department of Parks Arborist who says the Department is always on the lookout and responds quickly to tree emergencies, but if disaster strikes:

"If it's a City property tree I always get people to claim for damages," he said.

And what about trees that crash down from your neighbors yard?

The owner of the property where the tree is located only pays for the damage to that property. The owners of the property where the tree falls pay for those damages and repairs.

That came as quite a surprise to Rico Woodard but he says the neighbor was told the tree could come down and he wants them to pay.

"I assume the owner of the house -- it would fall on him, but as I hear it might fall on us," Woddard said.

For now it does.

But as with the city, there is a remedy.

Neighbors put on written notice that a tree can fall, says Salata, can be sued for damages.

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