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Developer takes city of Taylor to court after fines for removing trees without permit climb to $160K

City foreclosed property

TAYLOR, Mich. – A case involving vacant land in Taylor and the city is heading to federal court after a developer was fined thousands for removing trees without a permit.

Murray Wikol owns a parcel of land at Superior and Pardee roads. He was working on developing the space.

“We were cleaning up trees, refrigerators dumped there, dead trees, diseased trees, good forestry practice done by an arborist, and we went out and did the right thing and left 155 trees," Wikol said.

However, Wikol didn’t have a permit to remove the trees. He was fined $133,000. With interest, the amount reached more than $160,000.

When he refused to pay the fines, the city put the property in foreclosure. Wikol called the city’s actions oppressive.

“Selective enforcement -- there’s a lot of other sites where hundreds, if not thousands of trees, are being cut down, and they just are allowing it in certain areas and not in others," he said.

Wikol pointed out a space at Inkster and Eureka roads where a developer was removing trees without a permit in 2017. He said that developer received a $250 fine, and there was no listing of how many trees were taken down.

That land, which is leveled, is now owned by Joe Persicone. He claims he has the necessary permits.

“I have tree permits and soil erosion. The city gave me the OK,” Persicone said.

City officials have not commented on the matter, but their attorneys have filed a motion to dismiss the case. The motion says the case has no place in federal court.


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