JACKSON – It doesn’t happen often but Township Mayor Michael Reina vetoed an ordinance that had been approved by the Township Council during the council’s last meeting of 2022.
The ordinance concerned modifications to the township’s Shade Tree Commission ordinance. The mayor said that residents have since raised valid concerns because the ordinance would give a volunteer commission the power to assess fines and issue citations.
Reina said those functions are the purview of the township code enforcement department, a professionally trained department with plenty of law enforcement experience and knowledge of law and code enforcement.
“The modifications made by that ordinance which was drafted by the Township Council have sparked unnecessary controversy and concerns with residents about the expansion of government and possible intrusions into the privacy of property owners within the township,” Reina said. “I cannot in good faith to the residents of Jackson sign an ordinance into law that could provide the township with the authority to infringe on private property rights and interfere with the private rights of citizens in Jackson Township.
“I promised in November, I would move Jackson Forward…together. This ordinance does not move our township forward as it is presently written,” Mayor Reina said.
“I invite Councilman (Steven) Chisolm (who introduced the ordinance) to work with my administration so we can update this law in a way that does not threaten or seek to cause financial hardship for residents already struggling due to inflation, rising food costs and rising fuel and energy costs,” Reina added. “We need to make sure the ordinance stays on topic and does not grow our government or create new ways to seek fines against law-abiding, hardworking taxpayers.
“Together, and with the input of the residents of Jackson, our township professionals and the incoming council members, I am confident we can reintroduce an ordinance that preserves the state shade tree recommendations and does not cause undue hardships on our homeowners,” the mayor added.
Reina said his concerns with the tree ordinance as voted on by the township council included language that was not in the original ordinance and that new language should be properly reviewed and vetted before being signed into law.
Councilman Chisholm explained the purpose of the change saying, “the reason for the update (to the ordinance) was mainly some wordsmithing and the fact that the ordinance, that we have been operating on for about 20 years, was never updated and still referenced our old form of government as a Township Committee instead of a Mayor and Council.
“There were no substantive changes made to the language or enforcement powers in the updated ordinance. Unfortunately, our current ordinance was not entirely on the website like it should have been, so perhaps that is part of the reason for the confusion,” Chisholm added. “I am looking forward to meeting with the mayor to hear his concerns and hopefully get this back on track.”
Following the January 3 reorganization meeting of the Mayor and Council, Mayor Reina told The Jackson Times that he and Chisholm would be “sitting down with Greg (McGuckin, Township Attorney) and work things out and make the language less 2001 and clean it up and bring it up to 2023. We’ll rework it and it will be reintroduced.”