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Township Fines Michigan Duo Almost Half A Million Dollars For Cutting Down Their Own Trees

David Krayden Ottawa Bureau Chief

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.

An active logging site is pictured among burned trees from last year's Rim fire near Groveland

An active logging site is pictured among burned trees from last year’s Rim fire near Groveland, California July 30, 2014. Picture taken July 30, 2014. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith

“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.

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