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A bark with bite: Couple cited for removing trees from bluff

Erosion plan calls for planting 40 trees

Jan. 22, 2010

Fox Point — A Milwaukee couple are due in municipal court Feb. 2 after police issued them 20 citations for cutting trees on the bluff without a permit.

Trent and Jackie Graham own the property at 6702 N. Lake Drive. During the summer, the couple razed an existing house and removed many trees on the lot, planning to build a new house. The Building Board approved their house plans in August.

Village code prohibits cutting trees in the rights of way or on the bluff without permits, a law the Grahams were not aware of, according to their attorney Christopher Jaekels.

In October, Director of Public Works Scott Brandmeier became aware of the removal of the trees.

According to Brandmeier, five trees in the right of way and 44 trees on the bluff were cut down. Removal of vegetation on the bluffs overlooking Lake Michigan can lead to erosion, the reason cutting is regulated.

The police issued citations to Trent Graham earlier this month.

Last week, the Grahams and the Building Board reached an agreement under which the couple will submit an erosion control plan and plant a minimum of 40 trees.

Each citation carries a minimum fee of $366 and a maximum of $1,000. The ordinance also allows the village to fine offenders for each day there is no plan of restitution starting at the date the village became aware of the violation.

Jaekels said because the tree removal is currently in court his clients would have no comment but they are working with the village on a solution.

Last year a Mequon couple ran afoul of that city's regulations when they, too, removed trees on the bluff and ravine on their property.

The Mequon cutting was resolved with a $5,000 fine for cutting specimen trees and with a $20,000 letter of credit to guarantee restoration of trees at the site. The city's tree ordinance prevents the removal of larger species of certain trees without a permit in addition to regulating cutting on the bluffs and ravines.

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