2017-11-30 / Views

Regulating flowers

With all due respect to folks in the land use regulation business, there’s no compelling reason to make it wrong or even “illegal” to stick a non-native plant in the ground.

There’s a well-meaning movement across the Peninsula to regulate landscaping at businesses that, we believe, falls into the category of over-zealous zoning.

Landscape architects already are well aware of problems that can be caused by invasive plants. None worth their salt recommend sticking in an autumn olive for its pretty red seeds or a row of baby’s breath for its dainty and soothing effect.

But what about day lilies, hostas and roses? All nonnative, and loved by gardeners.

The topic was the focal point of a recent discussion at the Bingham Township Planning Commission meeting. Representatives of an organization called Invasive Species Network of Northwest Michigan and a new group calling itself Leelanau Goes Native were promoting adoption of a change to the township Zoning Ordinance that would, essentially, “discourage” the planting of nonnative plants in a business site plan.

How does a government discourage? By regulating.

The Invasive Species Network has done good work with the Leelanau Conservancy to clear invasive species from natural areas and spread the word about the benefits of planting local.

The Leelanau Goes Native group, which was represented by retired metereologist Dave Barrons at the meeting, is in a position to hype the message louder in the county.

Mr. Barrons has done wonderful work in promoting Leelanau as a bird watching mecca. He said that if enough zoning ordinances discourage nonnative plants in commercial site plans, the National Wildlife Federation will certify the county for its bird habitat.

We support the educational efforts of both organizations. In fact, we’d say the war against invasive species won the hearts and minds of Leelanau County landowners years ago.

But should townships regulate nonnative plantings? We don’t think so.

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