The Orchard Lake City Council will be mulling over whether a property owner’s request to remove a landmark tree is justified during its Monday, June 20 meeting.
The homeowner, Paul Vagnozzi, who resides at 4200 Commerce Road, drafted a letter to the city stating that the red oak tree has been deemed dangerous by Oakwood Tree Services, given the high degree of probability the tree could fall onto the house.
Vagnozzi further stated that while he regrets having to cut down the tree, the loss won’t affect the character of the lot.
“It’s a highly wooded lot,” said Building Official Gerry McCallum. “The property owner wants to knock down the tree because of its close proximity to the house.”
The tree has a diameter of 32 inches and therefore meets criteria to be deemed as a “landmark tree” under the city’s Woodland, Tree, Natural Features and Vegetation Preservation Ordinance. The ordinance states that a tree with a diameter of 24 inches or more cannot be removed from a site “unless dead, diseased or within the building footprint plus 10 feet on all sides of structures in new construction.”
The ordinance further states a property owner is allowed to remove up to “two protected trees in any 12 month period without city involvement except landmark trees and trees in environmentally sensitive areas.”
After inspecting the landmark tree, McCallum said he saw no indication it was diseased or dead.
“You can tell when a tree is dead by the limbs and the absence of foliage,” McCallum said. “I’m going to have our certified staff arborist look at it and then draft a memo to council with his findings.”
Vagnozzi submitted written notice to the city announcing his desire to remove the landmark tree to “avoid damage of existing primary and secondary structures.”
In some circumstances, it’s up to the city’s building official to verify the request and approve a permit.
“The 10-feet rule does not apply because it’s not a new construction and it’s a landmark tree that is alive and doing well, therefore the release mechanism must go to City Council,” McCallum said.