Facilitator appointed in lawsuit over Pittsfield Township tree removal
A lawsuit filed by a group of Pittsfield Township residents against a utility company that wants to remove trees along their property line will be mediated outside the courtroom.
A trial set for Friday before Circuit Judge Melinda Morris was cancelled after attorneys for residents of Beech Drive and ITC Holdings Corp. were ordered to attempt to resolve the dispute first, records show.
The neighbors sued ITC in February to prevent the company from cutting down dozens of arborvitaes in an easement that borders their properties and Helen Street. They argue the trees are vital to their quality of life and property values, and can be trimmed rather than removed.
Novi-based ITC purchased the easement from DTE in 2000 and said it is complying with a federal mandate to protect power lines that can be affected by trees.
Crews began removing trees in February, but Morris enforced a temporary agreement that maintains the status quo until the case is resolved.
Attorney Richard Soble was appointed as the facilitator with consent from both sides.
The parties were ordered to meet as many times as necessary until a cut-off of July 30, records show. A status conference is scheduled for Aug. 3.