Roadblocks to energy & wildlife conservation residential efforts

Asked January 18, 2015, 10:06 PM EST

This past fall I spread mulched leaves/grass on my property (homeowner in subdivision of Troy, Michigan) to (a) recycle turf grass, (b) improve the fertility and health of the soil, (c) conserve moisture, (d) reduce weed growth, and (e) enhance the visual appeal of the area (uses of mulch by the USDA). In the spring I intend to plant a flowering low growing ground cover in place of the turf grass. I also intend to plant various plants & flowers for wildlife (pollinating insects/bees, butterflies, birds, etc.). I am using the organic approach to replacing my grass with a new, healthier ground cover. There are no rules in the zoning bylaws requiring homeowners concerning gardening. In the past neighbors have complained to the City of Troy because I do not cut my lawn with automated machinery, and therefore it is not 'short enough (<3”) or ‘level’ enough to their taste. The maximum height for “turf grass” is 8” zoning laws, yet the city issues tickets to me when my lawn reaches 3-5” due to calls from neighbors who pay for law service &/or own professional law service. The city held up blades of ornamental grass so it would be out of the 8” maximum, (which the judge upheld) to classify my ornamental grass as turf grass, forcing me to cut the ornamental grass, which killed it over time. I placed wood chip mulch in my yard to distribute around plants on my property, but within 1 week the city issued a ticket calling the wood chip mulch "trash," & the district judge in a formal hearing, not allowing any discussion of the wood chip mulch, ordered the removal of the wood chip mulch and banned the use of paper products or landscape fabric under the mulch. The judge gave authorization to the city allowing for the desecration of two raised beds (planted with lilies & St. John's Wort flowering plants, with wood chips as mulch) which the city removed & destroyed. In late December, after receiving the ticket for leaf mulch as "trash," the city removed the mulch along with established chrysanthemums, St. Johns wart, grape hyacinth/Muscari bulbs, & ornamental lotus corniculatus seeds. As I am alone and without a support system, my financial situation is very limited and thus I do all the yard work myself and have been representing myself. The neighbors/city are bullying me in an effort to move. Because of various medical & financial reasons I am unable to move. I need to know what support systems, information, and laws are available to me in order to aid in combating the tickets the city continues to issue. I am trying to improve the way I live with a healthier, more energy efficient environment. Please provide any information & assistance you can in this matter as soon as possible. Thank you!

Oakland County Michigan

1 Response

This is an issue of the city applying ordinances relating to blight. You would need to contact an attorney who specializes in code enforcement issues.

Oakland County Bar Association
Lawyer Referral Service
(248) 398-3937

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Oakland Mediation Center
Southfield Office
(248) 354-9101

Mediation is a dispute resolution alternative to filing a court case. This non-profit Michigan corporation provides community mediation services to Oakland County residents.