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Posted: 04/02/14

Bruce Twp protests tree removal on 36 Mile Road

Observer Staff Writer
      A meeting of the minds will take place this week to determine how many trees will remain standing on 36 Mile Road.
       Enbridge Energy is replacing its 6B line that starts in Indiana and travels through Michigan. A total of 210 miles of new pipeline will replace an older line to transport crude oil and petroleum.
       As crews install the new pipeline this year, residents are worried that more than 50 trees along a three-mile section of 36 Mile Road north of the Ford Proving Ground will be removed during the process.
       Bruce Township Supervisor Richard Cory said a meeting with Macomb County officials, Enbridge representatives, residents and himself will take place today to determine the fate of the trees.
       "We drew the line in the sand, we're just waiting to see what Enbridge comes up with," Cory said. "I just hope we can get some kind of understanding and leave as many trees as we can."
       The meeting is the result of a letter from Cory to Enbridge dated March 24. Cory said the township does not agree to the removal of any tree that is 12-inches or greater in diameter within the Macomb County road right of way along 36 Mile Road.
       He said the township does agree, though, that trees with a diameter of less than 12 inches may be removed if Enbridge agrees to replace each tree with two new trees.
       In protesting the tree removal, the township is rejecting a $18,000 beautification grant from Enbridge.
       Cory bases his opinion on correspondence between Enbridge representative Mike Ashton and attorney Ben Aloia that argued Enbridge does not have the right to remove trees within the Department of Road's right of way.
       "The removal of trees was not expressly permitted by the Road Commission within the three-mile stretch of 36 Mile Road in question," Aloia wrote.
       Aloia said even if Enbridge gains written permission from Ford to remove trees from Ford Proving Grounds property, it cannot remove trees.
       The county granted two temporary driveway approaches into the Ford Proving Grounds as well as two temporary approaches from Dequindre and Hipp roads onto Enbridge's right of way. These are to confine the work within Enbridge's easement.
       Jason Manshum, spokesman for Enbridge, said the energy company has been in contact with the county and township about the trees, and hopes to find a resolution that works for all parties.
       "With any pipeline construction project, one of our key concerns is environmental stewardship," he said.
       He said oftentimes the company has to remove trees that encroach on the right of way or temporary working spaces, but always works to replace them.
       "In this particular location, there are some trees in question that we need to remove to complete the pipeline replacement," he said.
       Residents have also protested against Enbridge damaging the road by using heavy machinery on it. Manshum said the only time Enbridge will be on the road is if they temporarily shut down lanes to move equipment.
       "In some locations, you'll see flaggers out during construction, especially as we bring equipment in," he said.
       Cory's letter said Enbridge's promise to restore the road to its former or better condition after the project should include placing at least six inches of limestone on the road.
       A number of concerned residents met with Cory on March 20, giving a unified plea to save all the trees. Michelle Schuchard said removing the trees affects aesthetics and property values in the area.
       Using information from the University of Minnesota Extension, Schuchard said property values are improved by 9 to 27 percent when healthy trees are located on the land.
       "These are 100-year-old oaks," Schuchard said. "I saw what (Enbridge) did at the beginning of 36 Mile Road and it is terrible, it looks a like a bomb went off."

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