AUSTIN – The Federal District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan declared the Township of Canton’s tree ordinance unconstitutional under the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution. The court dismissed all of the Township’s state counterclaims and entered judgment on behalf of the Texas Public Policy Foundation’s client, Frank Powelson and his business F.P. Development, LLC.

“The federal court’s ruling is a resounding win for private property rights in Michigan,” said Robert Henneke, general counsel at the Texas Public Policy Foundation. “The judgment that the Township of Canton’s tree ordinance is an unconstitutional taking under the U.S. Constitution affirms that government cannot impose these burdensome regulations on Michigan private property owners.”

The Township of Canton assessed $47,000 in fines against Powelson for removing some brush and trees from his property in order to clear a blocked drain that was causing flooding on his property.

“This judgment confirms that the Constitution is alive and well in these United States,” said Ted Hadzi-Antich, a senior attorney with the Texas Public Policy Foundation. “When any level of government – federal, state, or local – tramples on our cherished liberties, the courts are our last resort. We at TPPF will use them to protect and defend freedom.”

Under the Township’s tree ordinance, removing any “tree,” defined as anything with a woody stem and a three-inch diameter, is punishable by up to a $450 fine.

“Canton tried to force Frank Powelson to pay over $40,000 for removing his own trees from his own property even though it admits that the removal didn’t harm anyone,” said Chance Weldon, an attorney with the Texas Public Policy Foundation. “The court rightly recognized that sort of abusive behavior by government ‘goes too far’ and violates the Constitution.”

A copy of the Court’s summary judgment order is available here:

https://files.texaspolicy.com/uploads/2020/04/23200951/Order-Granting-in-Part-Denying-in-Part-MSJs.pdf