Trees removed for Atlanta film production sparks outrage

ATLANTA — Some residents are concerned after a movie production company ripped out several decade-old trees in Downtown Atlanta.
Marvel Studios, which is in Atlanta to film "Ant Man," hired a company to remove eight magnolia trees in front of the old State Archives building. This will offer crews an unobstructed view of the archives building for shooting and production.
"The law is very, very clear. Removal is destruction, you need a permit to remove it, you need a permit to destroy it," said Tom Coffin, a former city of Atlanta tree arborist.
Coffin is accusing Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed's office of giving a Hollywood production company special treatment to remove the trees.
The city gave the production company permission to remove the trees in a stipulation of a film permit agreement, issued by the Mayor's Office of Film & Entertainment. The trees will be replanted on nearby Fraser Street, according to Melissa Mullinax, an adviser to Mayor Kasim Reed.
"There is nothing in the law that says the mayor's office, the film office, the entertainment industry is some type of special interest and can violate the law," Coffin said.
"It is simply an abrogation of the law. Its kind off like the imperial mayor saying this is what I want, this is what I'll get," Coffin said. 
Coffin says that this process violates a clearly established and often arduous tree removal permitting process.
"This request is atypical and does not need to follow our permitting process. By working with the project now, we will avoid potential destruction of these trees when the State decides to demolish the Archives Building," said Atlanta Parks and Recreation Commissioner Amy Phuong,  in an email obtained by Channel 2 Action News.
"They haven't taken it (the archives building) down yet, and there is no saying it won't be taken down for another 10 years," said Coffin.
In addition to replanting the trees, Marvel is also paying $8,000 to purchase and plant new trees at Oakland Cemetery. Also new trees will be planted in a vault to be placed where the Magnolias were. They will be movable, so production crews can take them away during filming.
In total, the city says the movie production company paid $63,000 to remove, replant and design the new tree plan.
"It is a win, win for trees in Atlanta," said Melissa Mullinax, with the Mayor's office.