WARREN, Mich. (WXYZ) — Despite most of us being stuck at home during this pandemic, spring is here; that means many are noticing lawns in need of care.
Under Governor Gretchen Whitmer's current executive order, landscaping is not deemed an essential service.
"I respectfully disagree with the interpretation that it’s not an essential service. I think it clearly is an essential service," Warren Mayor Jim Fouts said.
“I’ve received a number of calls from senior citizens, from people with special needs, they may be wheelchair-bound, a number of things -- but they aren’t able to do their lawn," he told Action News.
Mayor Fouts said Warren residents will not be ticketed for hiring a lawn service to cut their grass.
“We rarely speak with a customer. There is zero risk of me infecting anybody or the customer infecting me in any way. At most, we wave at people from inside their windows," said Joe Kelly, owner of First Cut Lawn Care in Warren.
Kelly said unattended lawns can lead to blight or rodent problems in a matter of weeks; however, he's worried about getting in trouble if he continues work.
“We started a week ago and were out doing clean-ups, basic stuff. But in the last couple days, we have shut it down," he said.
Thursday morning, Governor Whitmer's office reiterated that unless "the service is necessary to maintain and improve the safety, sanitation, and essential operations of a residence," it's not allowed.
However, that language is being interpreted differently.
The Roseville Police Department posted to its Facebook page, telling residents they're still allowed to have a lawn service cut the grass.
Owner of Big Lakes Lawn Care, which services all of Macomb County, Chester Buczynski, is still offering basic services.
"We took it upon ourselves to call the police departments in every municipality we service. We called two law firms and we also called the attorney general’s office. And our understanding is they will not be ticketing companies who are mowing the lawn," he said. "We are suspending all mulch installation, flower planting, brick paving, patios, retaining walls.”
Buczynski said his employees, who have the option to work or stay at home during this time, are following CDC protocols while on the job and strictly sanitizing all equipment. He also said that like Kelly, they never come into direct contact with customers.
Both Buczynski and Kelly said they support the Governor's executive order, but would just like additional clarification.
“In the last week, I’ve probably lost $5,000-$8,000 in sales," Kelly said.
Gov. Whitmer is expected to speak at 3 p.m. Thursday on extending the stay-at-home order. We're told she will also provide an update on essential versus non-essential business.
This is a developing story.
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