September 19, 2014

Au Gres to treat trees for emerald ash borer

Approves proposed commercial tax district

Posted

Au GRES — The Au Gres City Council approved the treatment of ash trees within city lines to prevent them from succumbing to the emerald ash borer during its meeting June 4.

City Manager Pat Killingbeck said the city had ash trees along US-23 and around the campground treated last year, but other trees in the city were left exposed to the invasive insect. Now those trees are beginning to suffer from the infestation, and she said removing dead ash trees would cost the city 3-4 times as much money as treating them would.

She said the treatment would last three years, and as the city already knows which trees need help it can save money on a survey. In total it should cost the city about $7,000 to treat 75 trees spread through the city park’s ball fields, playground and nature portion.

“We will find the money in the budget as long as the council is in favor of doing it,” Killingbeck said. The council unanimously approved the treatment after.

Killingbeck said trees are usually treated when the weather is cooler, so it was unlikely that it would happen in the summer months. More likely they would get it in the fall.

The emerald ash borer is an invasive species native to China, which was first detected in the U.S. in 2002. The beetle lays its eggs in the bark of ash trees, and when the larvae emerge they feed off of the tree. After only a few years at best, the ash tree is killed.

While researchers are studying ways to control the borer population naturally by testing the effectiveness of its natural predators, at this time treating the trees is the only way to keep them alive in the face of the insects. Killingbeck said the treatment takes the form of an injection of an insecticide into the tree.

In other city news, the council approved a planning commission proposal to set up a commercial tax district in a 4-0 vote, with Councilman Keith Edmonds abstaining. Killingbeck said the city would now need to come up with the borders for the proposed district.

Following that, the city will need to hold a public hearing and formally approve the new district. It would then send out an application to the state of Michigan to get its approval to create the commercial district.

Killingbeck said it is similar to an industrial tax district, such as the industrial park in the city or the zone Auburn Bean & Grain is located inside in Lincoln Township. New investments and new developments could get a reduction in local taxes for a set period of time, though Killingbeck said it will not apply to existing structures.

A date for the public hearing was not set during the council meeting.

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