Landscapers ask Gov. Whitmer to become essential business

Posted at 10:40 PM, Apr 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-19 20:05:00-04

CALEDONIA, Mich. — Landscaping companies and nurseries are asking Governor Whitmer to reconsider them as essential business. Some representatives also agree and would like to see a change.

Andy Niemeyer, owner of Oak Meadow Tree Service and co-owner Outdoor Logistics in Caledonia, says spring time is typically one of their busiest seasons.

"Spring time is just an important time," said Niemeyer, who described how fungal pathogens that kill trees are most active during this season. "If these trees don't receive the treatment that they need, they will die."

Under the Governor's executive order, landscapers like Niemeyer are not considered an essential business, unless they are treating a tree that would be considered hazardous. For instance, companies would be allowed to remove a branch hanging over a home and considered a liability.

"We actually did all that work through last week, but now we don't have any work left that is considered hazardous," said Niemeyer.

If they remain inoperable throughout the stay-at-home order, Niemeyer's business would suffer significantly.

Representative Lower, R-Greenville, hopes Gov. Whitmer will reconsider a change as well.

"This is something that I think should be corrected because I think we can do it in a safe way," said Rep. Lower, who has received many complaints from area residents in his district.

Lower worries about senior citizens who may not be able to care for their property themselves. Alternatively, he is concerned that people may be taking matters into their own hands who otherwise wouldn't and may not have materials needed.

"They're going into a hardware store - Walmart, Meijer, you name it - to get the supplies they need to do it. So in a way, I worry we're also creating more social contact as opposed to less" said Rep. Lower.

Niemeyer says he will respect whatever decision the Governor makes but hopes she will re-evaluate. He assures the public that if landscapers are allowed to work, they could easily maintain social distancing standards.

"We're not around the public," said Niemeyer. "We're not having contact with the public. In trucks, it would be easy for a company like ours to have only one occupant per truck."