Suddenly-Removed Trees Surprise Retirement Community

Gene and Audrey Douglas have lived in the Vista Grande Villa retirement community for the last five years. For five years, they had a great view of a wooded area that came right up to their backyard. That changed last week.

"It looks like a hurricane or a tornado just came in and took it all down," said Audrey Douglas. "We had no warning."

Now, nearly 100 acres of trees behind the Douglas's yard and several other residents' yards are all gone. What's left? A clear view of I-94.

Turns out, the land is part of a massive, joint clearing project by Blackman Township and the Jackson County Airport.

"It's just being cleared and cleaned up to return it back to agricultural-type use and to make it more salable in case somebody was interested in developing it," said Pete Jancek, Supervisor of Blackman Township.

Douglas says she heard about the land possibly being cleared several months ago and called the township, insisting a barrier of trees be left.

"When they came up to the fence, we became more upset and i kept checking back with the township, then the county, then the airport," said Douglas

The Jackson County Airport's Manager, Kent Maurer, says there will be a small barrier of trees left for a neighboring subdivision, but the ones near the Douglas's must all be cut down so a storm sewer system could be installed, if businesses are put on that area.

"I'm sure the buffer of noise and sight of I-94 has eroded for them," said Kent Maurer. "Other than that, I would say it is airport property and it is being done for a good purpose."

The Douglas's say their main issue is the lack of habitat for wildlife.

"It's not going to be the same," said Audrey Douglas.


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