Grand Blanc Twp. board advances effort to repeal tree ordinance

GRAND BLANC TWP. — Two weeks after putting the brakes on an effort to repeal the Protective Tree Ordinance, the Grand Blanc Township Board of Trustees reversed their decision.

“We had a special informational work session … we discussed this at length, and I know the board members who attended felt what was needed in the ordinance is covered in our other general ordinances,” said township Supervisor Scott Bennett.

Township officials began to reconsider the ordinance after receiving multiple complaints from developers. The ordinance is redundant, as many of its guidelines – such as conservation, density, size, location and species – are already covered in the Zoning Ordinance. In addition, in April, a federal judge in Detroit ruled a similar ordinance in Canton Township unconstitutional.

Mark Lloyd, director of Planning and Building, said board members “walked through” the ordinance at the Thursday, May 21, workshop.

“We discussed … the cumbersomeness, the procedural challenges, administrative issues associated with it, big concerns about the constitutionality, of course,” Lloyd said.

The township has a “very robust” development review process and an “excellent” landscape ordinance, he added. The township also has a woodland ordinance that addresses issues such as the volume of trees required to be kept.

Repealing the tree ordinance will remove “some of the contentiousness we deal with when dealing with some of the larger developers,” Lloyd said, noting that the township considers itself in partnership with the development community.

According to Bennett, the Protective Tree Ordinance was enacted in 2005 at the prompting of a planner who worked on contract for the township.

In 2016, the ordinance was overhauled, said Trustee Joe Massey.

A previous board “did a very poor job spending all of the money on this, what I call, ineffective ordinance,” Massey said, calling the previous board’s actions “blunders.”

“It seems like this (current) board is always trying to fix the mess of previous boards,” he said.

Last week, the township board approved a first reading of an ordinance to repeal the Protective Tree Ordinance. It will be enacted after a second reading.