When a county can step in and take down a tree

Published: Oct. 3, 2018 at 5:24 PM EDT
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Police have released the name of the man who was killed when a tree fell on his car on Monday.

Joseph Mull of Lowell was 32.

Neighbors tell News 10 they had been complaining about the tree to the Clinton County Road Commission, but nothing was ever done about it.

In an interview on Tuesday, the Road Commission told News 10 its not responsible for trees when they aren't in the road.

The "Right of Way" is the same for every county. The road commission or department can remove trees or other hazards up to 33 feet from the center-line of the road.

Jackson County, for example, handles it on a case-by-case basis.

"We always do an investigation of it and we go out at look at it, and if we see any concerns at all they we will get it removed as soon as we can," Angela Kline of the Jackson County Road Department said.

In other words, when it comes to trees on someone's property, counties have the last say whether or not it is removed, thanks to the McNitt Act of 1931.

"Its really their responsibility, but if we feel its going to be a danger to the motoring public, then we have the right to remove it and can. We have jurisdiction," she added.

Jackson County considers a tree dangerous if it's hanging over the road, if it's dead, or if it looks like it's going to fall. Clinton County, where the accident happened, said on Tuesday it's not typically in the tree-removal business.

News 10 also reached out to the County Road Association of Michigan, which represents all road commissions and departments in the state. They did not want to comment on this story.