Macomb County residents battle ITC over tree cutting plan

Posted at 6:50 PM, Feb 20, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-20 18:50:28-05

A company that delivers power on high-voltage lines says it needs to protect those wires to prevent possible outages.

That stance has set up a legal battle with more than three dozen property owners in Macomb County.

If International Transmission Company (ITC) gets its way, trees, shrubs and other vegetation in the backyards of homes on one side of Berkshire Street in Washington Township will be cleared out.

ITC owns the high-voltage power lines that run behind these homes in the Breckenridge Subdivision off 26 Mile Road.

The company filed condemnation lawsuits against 39 property owners here and in Shelby Township to obtain easements after most refused purchase offers for those rights.

Property owners have been advised not to speak with the media by their attorney.

Cheryl Gritenas lives in another subdivision nearby and lost her battle with ITC.

The heavily treed backyard of the home she and her husband have lived in for 30 years is quickly becoming a scene of devastation.

ITC provided this statement Monday to 7 Action News:

Ensuring the safety of homeowners and the reliability of the electric transmission system are ITC’s top priorities. As part of our proactive approach to the operation and maintenance of our system, ITC has identified certain privately owned parcels in Shelby and Washington Townships where the vegetation rights are inadequate to ensure the safety and reliability of ITC’s Jewell-Spokane high-voltage transmission line. ITC initiated a voluntary process to secure the vegetation rights needed and has extended good faith written offers to the landowners for these easements. ITC has secured adequate vegetation rights on six parcels in Macomb County. ITC has recently filed 39 lawsuits to secure adequate vegetation rights in Macomb County. The company remains open to ongoing dialogue with these landowners and their attorneys.