Controversial Tree Issue in Oakland County Illustrates the Value of Trees to Residential Homes
Monday, September 17, 2018 at 10:33AM
Clark Hill

Many communities in southern Oakland County are known for their tree-canopied residential streets and plans to trim or remove those trees have upset property owners.

Many of the eminent domain matters that I handle involve removal of trees. These situations include the acquisition of avigation easements for airports, underground pipelines, electrical transmission lines, and road projects. Avigation easements seek removal of trees that could impact flight paths. Underground pipelines are inspected from the air, requiring clear views from above, or could be damaged by root growth. Trees touching electrical transmission lines or that could fall into them are dangerous and could cause power outages. Road work can result in the removal of trees lining the street and creating an attractive canopy.

While this Detroit Free Press article does not implicate any of those situations, it does illustrate how important the existence of mature trees are to residential property owners. A number of communities like Birmingham, Royal Oak, Berkley, and Huntington Woods are known for tree-lined streets, where the trees form a canopy over the road. Often, those trees are between the sidewalk and road or within the city’s right of way, allowing the city to trim or remove those trees at their discretion and without just compensation. However, the removal of those trees can impact homes. According to Professor David Roberts of Michigan State University’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, “trees offer shade to homes, keeping them 10 to 20 degrees cooler without the need for energy-using air conditioning." "A good tree adds $20,000 to $30,000 in property values,” added Roberts.

These are among a number of factors that must be evaluated when considering the impact of tree removal on a home. For example, the trees may have been strategically planted to screen the home from traffic noise, lights, or dust. Trees provide privacy. The presence of the trees could help with drainage issues. I have had clients with homes that did not have central air conditioning that required it to be installed after trees have been cleared. The loss of shade could make outdoor decks uncomfortable or require understory landscaping that is sensitive to the sun to be replaced. Plus, trees are an aesthetic attraction. All of these issues must be evaluated on a parcel by parcel basis to determine how the loss of trees impacts a property.

If you are facing a condemnation, including the taking of trees, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Article originally appeared on Clark Hill Property Owner Condemnation Services (
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