Canton, Mich. wants to fine two brothers almost half a million dollars, accusing them of cutting down their own trees. The duo allegedly chopped down more than 1,400 trees on their 16-acre property, according to MLive.com.
Gary and Matt Percy apparently were clearing some space for a Christmas tree farm in a township that expects new trees to be planted before old growth can be felled. Their attorney, Michael Pattwell, said Monday that this is a clear case of a bylaw inappropriately trumping property rights, and the $450,000 fine is way out of line.
“This case is about misguided overreach,” Pattwell said. “It is unavoidably about whether people who own property are allowed to use it … We contend the Percy brothers exercised a farming exemption in the local tree removal law to clear the historic pasture behind their business and develop a Christmas tree farm.” (RELATED: House Passes Bill That Would Encourage States Not To Seize Private Property For ‘Economic Development’)
The brothers eventually plan to plant 2,500 Christmas trees; so far they have put 1,000 into the ground.
Canton Township lawyer Kristin Kolb told MLive.com that the municipality had informed the Percy brothers about needing a permit to chop down trees.
“[They] never came and got one,” Kolb said.