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Effort to preserve suburb's trees finds opposition

New ordinance as part of Detroit suburb's efforts to preserve trees draws opposition
Posted on Aug. 7, 2014 at 12:00 a.m. | Updated on Aug. 7, 2014 at 6:52 a.m.

HUNTINGTON WOODS, Mich. (AP) — Efforts by officials in a Detroit suburb to discourage homeowners from taking down trees that aren’t diseased or dying have been met with opposition.

An ordinance approved in June in Huntington Woods requires homeowners to get permits, pay fees and consult experts, The Detroit News reported (http://bit.ly/1kKuUdt ). But city resident Allison Iversen said the ordinance strips homeowners of control over their property.

“My personal feeling is they shouldn’t be able to tell us that we can’t take down any tree on our property,” said Iversen. “It’s ridiculous.”

Iversen and a group of neighbors led a successful petition to require the city commission to repeal the law or put it on a ballot.

City Manager Amy Sullivan said the ordinance is intended to preserve trees, a defining feature of the community of about 6,000 residents.

“It says if a mature, healthy tree is going to be removed, it has to replaced somehow so we can maintain the tree canopy,” she said.

The city commission had amended Huntington Woods’ code of ordinances to require permits for cutting down trees — something that previously wasn’t on the books. The city keeps permit fees of homeowners removing mature, healthy trees; it returns fees for removing dead or dying trees.

The law effectively has been suspended until either the city commission votes to repeal the measure or let residents decide its fate in November, Sullivan said. The soonest the commission could take up the issue is at its next meeting on Aug. 19.

Sullivan said the law stemmed from a 2007 survey of residents conducted to help develop the community’s master plan, adopted the following year. The survey found 96 percent of the 600 residents who responded said they favored tree planting programs along streets and protections for some trees.

One goal was to “promote preservation and enhancement of trees and the urban forest in the city.” Huntington Woods patterned its tree ordinance after those in other communities, including Grosse Ile, Northville and Franklin.

Iversen, who researched the same ordinances, said removal of trees on occupied single-family residential lots is exempt from permits in other communities.

Information from: The Detroit News, http://detnews.com/


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