This is not an official blog of the City. It is the work of Mark Kapel who is solely responsible for content.

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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

City Considering Tree Ordinance

The City Event Calendar  which appears on the City website was updated somewhere between Monday morning  and Tuesday afternoon to include  an Ordinance Subcommittee Meeting for Tuesday evening. Despite the late notice on the eve of a winter storm, six  interested individuals, four committee members and a  representative from the city's consulting firm, McKenna Associates overwhelmed the small conference room in back of city hall. While seating could be found for all, when  Mayor Zambricki went to retrieve his cell phone from the pocket of an overcoat,  he found it had been moved to the top of the fridge. Bottom Line? When the Ordinance subcommittee meets the cognoscenti (including a former mayor) show up. They knows something is up. Like CHANGE. You don't think the ordinance committee meets to announce that it has, reviewed all the ordinances and they are just fine. Or do you  ? The Zambricki  administration has made  it's game plan quite clear in the last and only issue of the Hills Highlights published this year.

All administrations  like to monkey with the muni's,  or the muncipal codes also know as ordinances. They are called that because the language of the ordinance begins with the words "the City of Bloomfield Hills Ordains...". The Roman Catholic Church ordains Priests to further it's mission and the City of Bloomfield Hills City Commission does the same with Ordinances. To create or change an ordinance a majority of the three of the five votes on City Commission  is all that's required. Residents have no direct say in passage of ordinances. If you don't like an ordinance your  only recourse is to elect commissioners who will change it.

Tracking ordinances is easy. They are listed on the City website along with the the City Charter but in an out of the way place.To find them you can click on the underlined Tracking ordinance link which begins this paragraph or you may use the quick find drop down box on the city's web site. Select  Code of Ordinaces from the drop down menu and then from the Code of Ordinance selection to your right select Visit the Municode website .On your left in outline form is the City Charter, the key document on how the city is governed. The Charter can only be changed by a vote of the people. Beneath the Charter are all the city codes. To your right taking up two thirds of the page is a listing of all the ordinances that have been changed listed in chronological order since 2009.

Since its inception the Zambricki administration has passed six "Ordinance to Amend" existing ordinances. Most concern procedural or administration matters. One was a Master Plan inspired Gates and Fences  ordinance. By clicking on the ordinance listed  in this case Ordinance No. 391 you will get all the details including the margin of passage (5 to zero in this case.)

 Ordinances or revisions  start with the Ordinance Subcommittee task force, which consists of two members of the planning commission and  a member of city commission appointed by the Mayor and in this case the mayor himself. After they are drafted they go the planning commission where there is a public hearing. Then it goes to the City Commission for approval. 

The Tree  ordinance is still in sub committee. Many City's and Townships have Tree Ordinances. Bloomfield Township is one example. You may see theirs by clicking on Township Tree Ordinance
Proponents  of such ordinances  say such measures are needed  to preserve the natural features of  a community. Proponents of such measures in the City say their proposed ordinance is  necessary and a lot less restrictive than other communities.
Whose Trees are these ?

Opponents say they are my trees. Back off Big Government. By the seventh word, of what was going to be a lengthy(see above) explanation, my wife was dead set against  a  tree ordinance and wanted to know what she could  do or where she could  go to say so.

Regardless of whether you are in favor of such an ordinance or opposed, There are many things you can do !

Pay attention to meetings. By law they are posted and you have a right to attend. The Planning Commission will meet on December 13th at 4pm. That is where the ordinance will go when finalized. Check the meeting agenda which is available a day  or more before the meeting. You will find the agenda and the agenda package which will have all documents on the proposed ordinance (if it is an agenda item) on the City's website and in this blog. It is anticipated  (but not  absolutely  certain)  that the Tree ordinance proposal won't be ready for the Dec 13th. In which case it could possibly appear on the agenda for the January Planning Commission meeting. If that happens  look for sub committee meetings announcements where the suggested ordinance  will be fine tuned. It is entirely possible that that matter might drag on for months and not reach a commission until early spring. There will be a public hearing at the planning commission  meeting that decides the matter  but you may have opportunities to speak at other meetings. Feel free to write this publication, The Mayor, your City Commissioners, or members of the planning commission. In the slightly altered words of former Mayor Michael McCready, your input is valuable and valued.

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