By Mike Kruzman /

Green Oak officials have adopted a new ordinance amendment regarding the protection and preservation of trees and woodlands in the township.

The township Planning Commission began working on the update that regulates which trees are protected and how developers can work within that to build on their property back in 2018.

Green Oak Clerk Mike Sedlak said it has gone through several iterations, but when COVID took over that’s when they really homed in on what they believe will be viable for both residents and developers, calling it a “reasonable compromise.” He said that there have been many changes in the Planning Commission since they started working on this, and there have been some involved that were very much in favor of a highly restrictive tree ordinance. Sedlak then stated that that really made it unworkable for not only residents, but also for anybody wanting to come in and develop their property, which they have a right to do. At the township’s first meeting in June, he said the Planning Commission “wants to be known as a community that wants to protect the trees, but on the same token, we do recognize individual property owner’s rights.”

In all, 32 landmark tree species were identified with “diameter at breast height” sizes specified for each type. For each protected tree that is permitted by the township to be removed, the applicant will be required to replace or relocate a replacement tree with similar characteristics, possibly even off-site pending township approval. On top of rules for landmark trees, “recommended tree species” are also provided, and may be considered by the Planning Commission as they do not exhibit the negative characteristics of invasive species. To that extent, ordinance now identifies a combined 53 “invasive” and “problem native plant” species that are not protected and states should not be planted in the township.

The township’s legal counsel, Carol Rosati, earlier in the month said that there is case law coming out which is not looking good for municipalities that want to regulate woodlands. She said she believed what Green Oak has drafted is reasonable, however, and as such, is unlikely to be challenged.

The Board of Trustees voted unanimously, Wednesday, to adopt the text amendment.