Village trees 'massacred'; citizen upset

In a season coming ablaze in fall color, trees in the Village of Spring Lake are taking center stage for other reasons.
Marie Havenga
Oct 10, 2013


Consumers Energy recently removed more than 100 trees in the village because they were interfering with power lines, according to the utility company's forestry communications director, Jon Hall. The company trimmed another 100 or so trees to clear space for wires, Hall said.

While Hall and village officials say the trimming and removal is necessary for reliable electricity, some area residents aren't admiring the fall tree scene.

Spring Lake Township resident Mary Thornsen said she was shocked when she drove by the Savidge Street and Lake Avenue intersection to pick up her kids from school and saw mature trees that had been cut down.

“It just looks horrible there,” she said. “It just really changed the aesthetics and it made me really angry that, with one fell swoop, they took the trees out and completely changed the look of that corner. That's not something we can fix or bring back.”

Hall said village officials requested that the sycamore trees at that intersection, as well as several others around the village, be removed instead of trimmed as originally planned.
Village Public Works Director Roger Belknap said the property owners wanted those trees removed.

Belknap said the village will replant two low-growing trees for every one that was removed.

“Through our ordinances and past history, we have a legacy of being a Tree City (USA)," he said. "That's not going to change.”

Chris Southerland said he gave the OK to have the sycamore tree cut down in the village right of way in front of his home, 105 S. Lake Ave., because he was given the impression that it was diseased. Standing next to a pile of logs and 3-foot-diameter trunk pieces that once made up the tree, Southerland said, “I don't see any sign of disease.”

Belknap said the decision to cut down rather than trim was made on trees that had the potential to become a threat to wires again in the near future. Belknap and Village Manager Chris Burns said aesthetics also played into the decision.

“Sometimes the trimming is more unattractive than removal and replanting,” Burns said. “Depending on how severe the trimming is, the tree may not survive anyway.”

Burns said she has received complaints about the recent tree removal and cutting, but they were from people who drive by, not from the property owners where trees were removed. She said the communication between the utility company, village officials and property owners was good.

“It's always hard to see mature trees disappear because they serve a wonderful purpose for the environment and for aesthetic reasons, but I also appreciate having electricity at my house,” Burns said. “We have to understand when people planted trees 30-40 years ago, they didn't pay attention to where they were planting. We can't plant large canopy trees beneath power lines.”

Hall said complaints are part of the territory.

To read more of this story, see today’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.





Tree Trimming City USA . . .


Did any of these trees block someone's view of the sunset?


Those trees (pictured) are more than 30 - 40 years old! Maybe they should have had the local dentist trim them!


Everyone knows you can not argue with the utility company's, mainly Consumers Energy and your compliant s are not heard, their exempt and regulated by the federal government, you can try to sue them, good luck with that


Yeah, this last comment....

"Hall said complaints are part of the territory".

pretty much says to me, get lost folks, we do what we think is right and you aren't going to be able to do a thing about it.

Replacing a fully mature tree with a stick with two pieces of rope attached is a joke for a "Tree City".


If we are Tree City someone should take a look at the trees on Savidge. Many are dead, or half dead, and many have suckers that should have been removed. What used to be a beautiful tree shaded street with stately old trees now looks shabby and unkempt. Sidewalks are not edged, bushes grow over the sidewalks, unlicensed vehicles in driveways and in front yards. One yard was cut twice this summer, but it is better than last year when they had a stalk of corn growing all summer. We have so many visitors driving through all year and the Village as a whole looks rough.


She [Chris Burns] said the communication between the utility company, village officials and property owners was good. Yet Village property owner [Southerland] was told his sycamore tree was diseased, but it wasn't. Which is it "Doc?" We know the there is no fabrications coming out of the Village Hall! The Village has money to plant all these new bushes but couldn't trim a few apple trees and cause weeks of hoopla. Kind of curious...where does this village public works director Roger Belknap come from anyway? Better google that.


Good points, Gwen66. Again, another situation where there seems to be a certain disconnect between the communication between the village manager (Chris Burns) and a village resident. Hope it's just a coincidence. Odd both reports have to do with trees....


Chris seems to be fixated on wood! Hmmmmmm


Careful, there may be a moderator out there that would get that.....


You two pistils, with your concern for broadleaf pollinations, special emphasis on lobes and midribs, of course, show yourselves to be real specimens!


Cute. You wordsmith you, well done.
I think there's a compliment in there somewhere, but I'm not entirely sure if it was intentional, or not. :-)


Leave it to you two to take my innocuous comment and use a mental metamorphosis to make me seem iniquitous, wicked or perverse. I shutter to think what repulsive and disgusting arrangement of ideas form in the minds of the likes of you; and then sharing them with the world via GH Tribune.


" make me seem iniquitous, wicked, or perverse.." Actually, it's much worse! LTA - looks like this is the compliment you were looking for! :->

"metamorphosis" - what clever disambiguation!




I do believe you are correct Ms.Lani...I'm blushing as we speak.


So enjoying this! You ladies and gents make the e-paper worth reading just for the comment section.


Thanks! I'm glad you enjoy this example of how a few people can take a serious topic and go off wildly on some inappropriate and hopelessly off-topic tangent, without moderator removal! Join in anytime.....

deuce liti

The sad part, the story you don't hear, is that they march all those trees into an incinerator and burn them mercilessly in front of other trees.

They've been targeting sycamores to the point where they've gone into hiding. This is madness.


I have several trees in the 60'-80' category that could use serious trimming or removal. How can I get the village and consumers energy to handle this job for me at the taxpayer’s expense? I have estimates in the thousands of dollars to get the job done; I think I'll just sit on my porch and let nature take its course.


Hey, I'll bring my chainsaw over and we can get it done in a couple hours. I just finished trimming the deadwood from the trees in front of my house. The city should be doing it, but I don't trust them to not screw up the job, kill the tree and further lower the value of my house.


Didn't want to ruin deuce liti's humorous post so I'm replying down here. Her (I assume, if I'm wrong, apologies) humor brings up a more serious point for me. What happens to all this wood? is it just burnt unceremoniously and wasted or is it donated or given away to someone who'd use it for firewood? I love to have a fire in the backyard from time to time and would be happy to come and cut up some of this mess at no expense to the taxpaying citizens.
I dunno....I may be too late already and somebody already has it, but just as long as it gets put to a good use and not just chipped up and tossed somewhere.


You could probably make a buck or two slicing it up and making tables out of it, while you're at it!


Ha! I think I'd need a bigger saw to get thru those trunks in one pass, but sycamore does have a nice pattern to it, would look great down in the cave as a coffee table. :-)

EDIT: How about I rent a crosscut saw and you meet me over there to cut off a couple slices? A little bit of sanding and some varnish and we'd have ourselves a couple of nice looking tables for our man caves. :-D

Big Swed

It would be great if over time the village planted cherry, plum, apple, pear trees to replace the maples. They do not get so large that they would threaten the power lines but provide great snacks or food for those in need. Spring Lake could replicate some of the beauty found in Traverse City!

Big Swed



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