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Sterling Heights to Consider New Landscaping Amendment

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The City Council of Sterling Heights, Michigan is considering an amendment that would require certain landscaping ordinances for its residents this summer.

CandG Newspapers reports that on May 14th, the Sterling Heights Planning Commission voted unanimously to recommend to the City Council certain regulations regarding single-family residential homes.

The amendment stipulates that these homes will need a “minimum amount” of landscaping work done on their front and side yards. The amendment specifically applies to Zoning Ordinance No. 278 and other articles that regulate landscaping provisions.

The amendment was spurred in part by concerns of some city officials that the current rules are not specific enough in their definitions of proper lawn maintenance. Don Mende, Sterling Heights’s City Planner, said at the May 14th meeting that the vagueness of the rules has caused some homeowners to abandon landscaping outright.

Under the amendment, the official landscaping area will be defined as the area “immediately adjacent to a home” and will extend at least three feet. The landscaping area will only take up at most 10% of the total area of the front lawn.

Of the 10%, at least 70% must contain “living plant material” such as flowers, bushes, and shrubs, according to Meade.

“This ordinance would certainly establish some minimum standards to help our regulatory process,” he said.

At another May 19th meeting, the City Council sat through a presentation led by local resident Michael Lombardini expounding on the amendment. Lombardini is dead-set against the amendment, as he considers it an unwarranted breach of individual liberty.

“I’m opposed to this rule because I believe it’s an attack on artistic freedom, architectural diversity and because, under current city rules, it leaves no room for exceptions,” Lombardini said.

On the other hand, City Councilman Joseph Romano supports the amendment, believing that every home in Sterling Heights should have some kind of landscaping work done. Mayor Michael Taylor seems to agree, although he was careful in stating that “nothing is set in stone yet.”

“As Mr. Romano said, what we’re trying to protect against is people who are doing no landscaping whatsoever, letting weeds grow up, and that can become an eyesore that spreads through a neighborhood and can diminish property values,” Taylor said.

Indeed, a recent landscaping survey found that 63% of respondents claim they would pay more for a residential property with “good green space.”

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