Volunteers splinter tree rule - Measure defeated 3-2
 
 
 
(Note: The catch to this is that common sense is being replaced by a logjam of rules that stifle all responsible land use. There is no need to make more and ever more rules to handle something that the area can handle on its own. If the builder actually "clear cuts," such a razing should be built into the building permit. Hindsight is always  20-20. However, there does not need to be a "tree ordinance" to accomplish responsible land stewardship.)
 
 
 
November 9, 2005
 
 
 
By Jim Totten, Daily Press and Argus jtotten@ht.homecomm.net or 517-548-2000
 
323 East Grand River Avenue
 
Howell, Michigan 48843
 
888-840-4809
 
 
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Like voracious lumberjacks armed with chain saws, Brighton Township voters tore into the controversial tree ordinance and quickly cut the measure down.

The rule was rejected by a 3-to-2 ratio Tuesday, according to uncertified results.

The hot-button issue obviously touched a nerve as 30 percent of the township's voters cast ballots in the referendum.

 

"It's just un-American," said Charmaine Zink, referring to the ordinance after voting against it at Brighton Township Hall. "It's too many rules on what you can do with your own land."

Zink described herself as a "tree lover" who knows all the names of the tree species on her land, and has lots of them. While the clear-cutting on a highly visible parcel of land last year by a homebuilding giant, Pulte Homes, along Old U.S. 23 near Spencer Road took her breath away, Zink said she doesn't like the idea of having to hire an arborist and getting a permit to take down trees on her property.

When asked if she believes the township needs a tree rule, Zink touched on the challenge facing township officials, which is drafting an ordinance to protect trees without infringing on individual's property rights.

"Rules would be nice, but how do you find a good rule?" Zink asked.

Bruce Owens, a former township board member who voted against the ordinance, doesn't see the need for a tree rule.

"That was a bunch of bull _ _ _ _," Owens said after casting his ballot with his wife, Janet, at Township Hall.

"They caused the problem there by not controlling the development that went in at Old 23 and Spencer," he said.

Owens said a new rule isn't needed to prevent clear-cutting. He said the Planning Commission has the ability and responsibility to control new projects and preserve trees on property that will be developed.

Owens, who lives on 7.5 acres, said he should be able to do what he wants with trees on his property without having to get a

permit.

"I'm ecstatic," said Lana Theis, a township resident who organized the referendum.

"I think people saw how irrational it was, and now we have to turn around and get something that makes sense," she said.

Theis, a homemaker with two children, said she strongly supports the township adopting an ordinance to stop clear-cutting, but was opposed to the version the township adopted because it was flawed.

"We need something to stop clear-cutting on a large scale but [also something that] isn't going to be overly burdensome on homeowners," she said.

Theis said she would stay involved in the township's efforts to draft a new tree rule.

Theis said opponents and supporters of the ordinance really aren't that far apart in what they want to accomplish.

H.E. "Bud" Prine, Brighton Township supervisor, said the issue will go back to the township Board of Trustees so its members can decide what they want to do.

"I thought it was going to go down," Prine said Tuesday evening.

"There was a lot of misinformation spread about it," Prine said. "It wasn't as bad as opponents wanted to make it out."

Prine acknowledged the ordinance needed revisions.