To the Editor:
Recently, you published an article about tree trimming on West Bluff (M-119) in Harbor Springs, and I’d like a chance to clarify several facts that are not clear in the article. This response represents input from a large group of neighbors that live on West Bluff.
The city recently informed us that tree trimming, or even canopying trees, was no longer possible because they now claim they do not own a section of the bluff referred to as Bluff Park. This new input is based on research completed by the City’s attorney which found no clear title to Bluff Park dating back to the 1880’s. This contradicts the City’s position of more than 100 years during which trimming was allowed and funded by homeowners onWest Bluff.
Here are some additional facts that were not highlighted in any articles but should be considered; • A portion of Bluff Park was deeded to an individual homeowner in Harbor
Springs. It is unclear who deeded a section of Bluff
Park, but this deed now seems invalid based on the
City’s new position. • The City’s master plan calls for efforts to maintain views for all to enjoy which includes visitors travelling on M-119. • The arborist hired by the city stated that trimming trees, removing invasive species and planting ground cover would improve the stability of the bluff. • Previous city managers guaranteed residents considering purchasing property onWest Bluff that the city would always allow trimming so views could be maintained. • There was a recent water breach during a storm that impacted the bluff.
The breach happened on a section that has had no trimming for 18 years. Had pruning and ground cover been in place that breach may not have occurred. • Given the City has taken a position that they no longer own Bluff Park, are there other city properties that do not have clear deeds that the city may not own?
The residents on West Bluff believe the stability of the bluff is essential and we also support the City’s master plan to maintain views where possible. The fact that Harbor Springs has this revelation they no longer own the bluff, and that residents who spent thousands of dollars to keep the bluff stable while maintaining a view seems unfair.
While the city shows examples of previous case law supporting their new position, other cases could suggest the city does own Bluff Park through eminent domain given they have managed it since the late 1800’s, and there is no clear deed.
In conclusion, the homeowners on West Bluff have NEVER supported any plan that weakens the stability of the bluff, but we do feel the city needs to step up and reengage on the right next steps. Can’t we as neighbors in such a beautiful place find a way to maintain our bluff and allow residents and visitors to enjoy the natural beauty of Harbor Springs as our founders intended.