August 9, 2014 at 1:00 am


Saturday Shorts: Tree law is over the top

Huntington Woods has passed a tree ordinance that is a gross violation of private property rights.

Itís government overreach. Residents should be able to beautify their property without having to report to the city.

The ordinance is an unwarranted intrusion into the lives of homeowners. Obtaining a permit to dispose of or plant a new tree is bad enough. Adding fees and requiring consultations with experts is over the top.

Oppressive high fees include $75 for a permit to remove a tree and a $450 per tree fee that is supposed to guarantee all permit and tree replacement requirements have been met.

Citizens are rightly outraged. The city should repeal the law and let residents decide what to do with trees on their property. Donít entangle property owners in needless bureaucratic regulations.

DPD can't afford setbacks

Six members of the now-disbanded Detroit Police Narcotics Section have been suspended after a surveillance video reportedly caught them taking away a box that wasnít logged as evidence after a drug raid.

One sergeant and five officers are suspended with pay while Internal Affairs investigators determine what was inside the box, said Detroit Police Chief James Craig. The raid happened in February but Craig said the incident came to his attention a few weeks ago.

The investigation is part of a larger Internal Affairs probe into the Narcotics Section, which was revamped last month after allegations of major problems in the unit.

The Detroit Police Department is making too much progress on reducing crime and improving public trust to let it be spoiled by dishonest officers.

If the investigation reveals the officers were breaking the law, they should be swiftly and sternly disciplined.

The city canít afford such setbacks as it tries to establish a competent police department.

Clear the air on pot laws

Oak Park and Hazel Park have joined a growing list of Michigan communities whose residents have said they want to decriminalize use and possession of small amounts of marijuana. But the local regulations approved in Tuesdayís primary are still at odds with state law, which makes the use and possession of any quantity of the substance illegal.

The contradiction clearly shows the need for the Michigan Legislature to revise the marijuana laws.

Eight other Michigan communities have voted to decriminalize small-time marijuana use. They include Lansing, Jackson and Ferndale in 2013; Detroit, Grand Rapids, Ypsilanti and Flint in 2012; and Kalamazoo in 2011.

This scattered approach at the local level is confusing. It leaves law enforcement officers in those cities in an awkward position. All swear an oath to enforce state regulations as well as local. But in this case, to enforce the law at one level is to ignore it at another.

There's no doubt sentiments toward marijuana use are changing throughout Michigan.

A comprehensive change in the stateís regulations is in order.