Huntington Woods revokes tree ordinance
Huntington Woods city officials have repealed a controversial ordinance requiring homeowners to get permits, consult with tree experts and pay fees for cutting down trees that aren’t diseased or dying.
“It was rescinded,” said Ronald Gillham, the city’s mayor. “It’ll be one of those things that we will go back and look at and see what level of protection of trees we can provide.”
Gillham said the city commission’s five members revoked the ordinance at a meeting Tuesday night. The vote was unanimous, he said.
The decision comes a couple of months after the commission unanimously passed the law.
City officials intended to use the law to discourage homeowners from taking down healthy, mature trees — a defining feature of the community.
Under the ordinance, the city would have only kept permit fees of homeowners removing mature, healthy trees and returned fees for removing dead or dying trees.
“If you want to make changes to your house, you have to get permission,” Gillham said. “It’s not unprecedented for cities to have some control.”
He said the city tried to get input from residents as it developed the ordinance, but “we obviously didn’t do it enough; we’re working on that.”
A group of residents saw the law as the city government over-stepping its bounds and a violation of private property rights.
“We’re very happy the city chose to rescind the tree ordinance,” said Allison Iversen, who led a successful petition drive earlier this month that forced the city commission to either repeal the law or submit it for voter approval.
Iversen and a group of neighbors gathered 533 signatures for the petition, but the city charter only required 180. She filed the petition with the city Aug. 4.
“And we’re looking forward to working with city officials for a more sensible solution,” she said. “It’s very easy to point the finger and complain, but we also have to put our money where our mouth is and offer some solutions.”
Huntington Woods has more than 6,000 residents and more than 2,000 homes.