Imagine two scenarios:
(1) A homeowner with a lake view, sour over the village’s unkempt apple trees blocking his view, becomes so upset that he buzzes the trees himself.
(2) A couple of teenage punks egg a local business and make disparaging remarks to the business owner.
Both of these situations outraged local residents. Neither is OK. But which case was prosecuted?
Here’s a hint: Not the dentist who pays property taxes.
The latest situation — regarding apple trees that were cut at the wrong time of the year with the village manager's express wishes they not be touched — arose in Spring Lake Village earlier this month.
No criminal charges were immediately filed, and none may be forthcoming.
That had many commenters at grandhaventribune.com saying that something smelled rotten. They asked: Why not pursue charges, such as destruction of public property or vandalism? The trees are the village’s property. And it is clear they were damaged by the trim job.
Turns out that the village police chief has been trying to get to the core of the issue — but the dentist, Dr. Brad Masse, has, as the chief put it, "been ducking us."
The village manager said the village has to make a decision — spend a couple of thousand dollars pursuing a criminal case, or a couple of hundred dollars replacing those trees with others, should the apples die.
If Masse doesn't get back with police soon, they'll turn it over to the county prosecutor. The village manager, however, is still hoping for a resolution without prosecution.
"We're going to hope for the best," she said.
As of this editorial, charges have not been filed.
It is hard to disagree with our commenters. While the two scenarios listed above may not be an apples-to-apples comparison, the teenage boys were prosecuted. This dentist seemingly hasn’t had any repercussions for his hasty actions other than upset neighbors and the police looking to talk with him.
Perhaps charges are not warranted in this case. After all, it is just about two trees. But perhaps charges are warranted because fair is fair and no one is above the law.
What we do know for sure is that, should those trees die, the village should plant two very tall, very bushy trees to replace them. Perhaps a whole row of trees.
How would he like them apples?
Our Views reflects the majority opinion of the members of the Grand Haven Tribune editorial board: Kevin Hook, Cheryl Welch, Matt DeYoung, Alex Doty and Fred VandenBrand. What do you think? E-mail us a letter to the editor to firstname.lastname@example.org or log-in to our website and leave a comment below.