Huntington Woods Taking Man to Court over His Trees

City Says They Are Too Tall

Updated: Thursday, 29 Dec 2011, 7:14 PM EST Published : Thursday, 29 Dec 2011, 7:12 PM EST

HUNTINGTON WOODS, Mich. (WJBK) – The same prosecutor who tried to bring charges against an Oak Park family for growing a garden on their front lawn is now targeting another family, this time for having bushes that city officials say are too big.

Just a few years ago, the Rist family’s front yard won an award for being one of the most beautiful in Huntington Woods.

However, Huntington Woods Code Enforcement has found a major violation with  Gilbert Rist’s front yard. We’re not talking about trash or unsightly weeds, but rather trees.

“They cite the city ordinance for a height restriction of 30 inches,” explained Rist. “These plants have been here for six, seven years, at least, and it hasn’t been an issue up until last year.”

That’s when Rist says Code Enforcement officers told him his trees were too close to the sidewalk creating a safety hazard for drivers and pedestrians. So, he cut the trees back 15 feet.

“I said, ‘Are we good?’ And he said, ‘Yeah, you’re good,'” Rist said.

However, just three months later, Rist was cited again. This time, the city says all the trees have to go.

“It’s utterly ridiculous that their wasting … taxpayers’ dollars on this thing,” he told us.

Rist’s battle should sound familiar. Earlier this year, Oak Park mom  Julie Bass was at the center of a fight over her front yard.

The City of Oak Park prosecuted her because officials said the veggie garden in her front yard was against the law.

Bass’ garden gained international attention. People from all over the world sent letters to the city demanding the case be dropped, and that’s exactly what happened.

Bass and her family have moved, but some of the same players have stuck around. The city prosecutor assigned to Rist’s case is the same one who prosecuted Bass’ case. So, Rist hired her attorney, Solomon Radner.

“I called Mr. Lumberg, and I told him that I have nothing but the utmost respect for him and asked him if he actually intended on taking this case to a hearing or if he wanted to dismiss it,” Radner explained. “He said he was going to take it to a hearing and try to have these trees removed.”

“Anybody that happens to walk down the sidewalk and has time to listen to me thinks it’s an utter waste of taxpayers’ time and money,” said Rist.

“Foreclosure rates are way up there. People are losing their homes. Property values are plummeting, and the city’s wasting taxpayer money on prosecuting things like this,” Radner remarked.

“It’s insane. Absolutely insane,” Rist commented.

And it’s headed to a courtroom January 13

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my note- here’s a picture of the offensive bushes, for those of you who were curious…

Gilbert Rist's Front Yard_20111229191146_JPG