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Grosse Pointe Shores

Published July 2, 2013

Resident says tall hedges are growing problem

GROSSE POINTE SHORES — Joe Girard is proud to say he’s been a Shores resident for the last 49 years, and he’s proud of the house and yard he maintains.

Because of a change made in the city’s fence ordinance, however, he isn’t so proud of a house occupied by one of his neighbors.

Speaking at a June 18 City Council meeting, Girard asked the current council to consider reversing a decision that seemingly no longer limits the height of shrubs that act as fences. While the city’s ordinances still limit fence heights, “now it’s a little ambiguous” when it comes to limits on shrub heights, City Attorney Brian Renaud said.

The problem, according to Girard, is that some homeowners now have towering, overgrown hedges in their yards.

“Their bushes are 20 feet high. … I can’t even see the sky when I look out the window,” he said of his neighbor’s hedges.

Girard said he contacted Mayor Ted Kedzierski about the problem, and the mayor sent a letter to the neighbors, but “all they did was cut three branches.”

Girard is also upset by neighbors who have large weeds and trees that are “in terrible shape” in their yards. Maintaining high community standards is something the city historically has done and needs to continue to do, he said, calling for “tough ordinances.”

“You come and see my house,” Girard told the council. “It’s immaculate, inside and out. … These goofs should be thrown out of Grosse Pointe Shores because they make us look bad.”

According to the revised ordinance, fences and walls require a permit from the city. If the homeowner wants to erect a fence taller than 4 feet, he or she needs to get permission in writing from any directly adjacent neighbors as part of the approval process, and even then, the height limit is capped at 6 feet.

The revised ordinance — which was passed Nov. 10, 2010 — only seems to specifically address height limits with regard to fences or shrubs in front yards. Renaud said the fence ordinance used to apply to shrubs or hedges that functioned like fences along the back and side lot lines, but that’s no longer the case. The attorney said Girard’s neighbor has hedges that are about 16-20 feet tall.

“There’s really nothing in the (revised) shrub ordinance that could dictate what (the maximum height would be),” Renaud said.

The City Council could be revisiting this issue again soon; Renaud said he could “look into it further.”

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