Chesterfield Township Board of Trustees voted 4-3 Monday in favor of allowing a seasonal Christmas tree business to move a half-mile down 23 Mile and extend operation dates.
Russ Mangiapane Jr. previously sold the trees, wreaths and grave blankets at the parking lot outside Kroger but had to move due to construction of a credit union. With this approval, he will be able to sell trees at the Bayside Plaza, where Premier Lanes is located.
"It's the traffic of 23 Mile that gets me costumers," Mangiapane said. "My costumers are used to me being there."
Mangiapane and his family have been selling trees for more than 20 years. The approval also means they can start selling as soon as Nov 14.
"I have a lot of customers that want grave blankets and wreaths, and they want to put these in the ground before it freezes," explained Mangiapane to the board about why he wanted an extra two weeks to sell.
Opponents of the decision said they felt the business was hurting other local nurseries that sell similar products, such as Van Thommes Greenhouses and Meldrum Brothers Nursery and Supply, both located on 23 Mile Road.
"Its just not fair to businesses that are here year-round," said Trustee Brian Scott DeMuynck.
In his closing comments at the end of the meeting, DeMuynck expressed his desire for the township to review and reevaluate selling permits to mobile vendors, such as yearly fireworks sellers who sell from parking lots.
In a previous Patch story on this matter, readers were overwhelming supportive of the Christmas tree business. Among their comments:
- Christina Barrett said, "He's been selling trees in this community for 20 years...I don't think moving locations is going to impact anyone's business in any way. Free market capitalism does not involve having township officials withhold permits from legitimate businesses in order to protect other businesses, giving those businesses an unfair advantage. I would rather spend my money on a tree that I know was grown in Michigan, with the money going to a local business, rather than Home Depot or Lowe's. Laissez Faire!"
- Taryn Hoisington Maurer said, "Seriously do not understand why the township is giving this long standing business such a difficult time. Seriously Chesterfield Township Board - between this and your requests for wage increases - you need to rethink how things should work.
- Connie Robine said, "We have purchased our trees from them for past 15 years, and sorry that they have to relocate, however most things do change in life. With proper advertisement, to the move, I hope they keep their current customers.... I know we WILL be crossing the street...looking forward to it this year..."
- Corrine Hallam said, "Too much petty time and money the township is wasting on this poor small business owner! Let the man sell his trees where he wants- It is only for the season of Christmas after all- Isn't this the season of giving?"
Do you think seasonal businesses should be allowed in the area? Cast your vote on the matter in our poll.