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Relocation of Chesterfield Christmas Tree Business Has Some on Pins and Needles

A longtime seasonal tree stand is requesting to move its location, but some local businesses worry it will take away their business.

A debate over the location of a temporary Christmas tree stand has some concerned there won't be enough seasonal spending to go around.

Russ Mangiapane Jr., a co-owner of his family's business called , said he wants to start selling his trees around Nov. 13 to Christmastime instead of on Thanksgiving to late December, as the seasonal permit mandates. The business is also requesting to relocate from the Kroger parking lot on 23 Mile to the Premier Lanes plaza because the construction of a credit union in the old location.

But, when the request went before the Chesterfield Township Board of Trustees last week, some felt the new destination would adversely affect permanent businesses, such as local nurseries.

The board decided to table the matter until the next meeting at 7 p.m. Nov. 7 in for Mangiane to answer questions in person. He was not present at the previous meeting and, if he does not show at the next one, his request will not be approved, the board decided.

“I don’t see why there’s a problem," Mangiapane told Patch afterward. "I mean, most of my customers, they're repeat customers. It's not like I'm taking people's customers away. We've been there for 20 years, so everybody knows us."

He said they've even sold before to the local nurseries, such as , and others. Some township officials pointed out other larger businesses, such as Lowe's and Home Depot are also in the Christmas tree market in town. His business also sells wreaths and grave blankets.

However, Treasurer Linda Hartman said at the board meeting of the requested relocation, "I think that is harmful and burden to our local businesses."

Van Thomme's Greenhouses owner Blase Van Thomme agreed.

"Every business in Chesterfield is having a hard time—everyone," Van Thomme said. "Issuing this permit will only make it harder on businesses."

Others, such as Clerk Jan Uglis and Supervisor Michael Lovelock pointed out that Mangiapane is, in fact, a township resident whose family has been doing seasonal business for two decades in the community.

"If it was another business or a new one coming in, I would say 'absolutely not,'" Uglis said.

She said the tree business has a good track record with the public and township.

"They're used to getting the permit from us."

The township permit for the seasonal stand costs $100 up front, with half of that available for refund, she said.

Mangiapane said his family business sells about 700 trees grown on their Cadillac property each season at wholesale and at the temporary business on 23 Mile.

The issue at the board meeting brought up the notion of seasonal businesses possibly taking away money from permanent proprietors.

"We're looking at some of these changes," Uglis said at the meeting. "We're going to try to stop it."

She later said, in particular, temporary business stands that sell items, such as flowers on Sweetest Day, alongside busy roads without permission from the township need regulation. However, fireworks stands around July 4 most likely will not be banned from operating because they don't violate any particular laws when properly obtaining permits, Uglis said.

N Kortas October 25, 2011 at 08:55 PM
How about the Cancer charities that clog up the intersections two/three days in a row. I say let the man from Chesterfield sell his Christmas trees and have a meeting about something important instead of trying to tell us who to buy from.
Christina October 26, 2011 at 12:52 AM
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!
PJ October 26, 2011 at 01:35 AM
I agree with Christina. Let the man sell his trees. I have bought my tree from him every year for the last maybe 10 years. He is a township resident and businessman. Putting the location down the street isn't going to negatively impact other businesses.
Michelle October 26, 2011 at 01:41 AM
This man has sold his tree's in Chesterfield for years, moving his location one mile down the road will not hurt the local business, I didn't even know that VanThommes sold tree's. I buy my garland and all my flowers from them, but maybe no more. I agree with Christina, I would rather spend my money on a Michigan grown tree than one from Home Depot/Lowes, not knowing where it came from
Maureen October 26, 2011 at 01:54 AM
That is just awful that the Board does not want to issue him a permit. We purchase from him each year. I would rather support a "local" businessman than the big chain stores. They are good for building products but trees???
LSCN.NET October 26, 2011 at 02:37 AM
I wondered where the trees would be since the credit union was going up. It's ridiculous that there is opposition to this. If Van Thommes sells trees, I didn't know it either. Instead of hassling this long time business man who could just as well take his business to a neighboring township, they should accommodate him. Why not wrap red tape around the credit union that is putting up a new building directly in front of other small businesses reducing their visibility from the road and surely effecting their business. And that's not just a seasonal thing. Mind you, this is the same board that is looking for substantial raises during these trying times when tax revenue is consistently falling.
Taryn Hoisington Maurer October 26, 2011 at 12:43 PM
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.
Tony Armijo October 26, 2011 at 12:45 PM
Township officials have over stepped what they were elected to do; withholding permits to protect other businesses is not what we elected them to do. What their unsound action could cause is Mangiapane Trees to move their business to community next door. Competition is good for the economy; I say officials should provide the permit.
Connie Robine October 26, 2011 at 01:36 PM
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.... Connie R.
Corrine Hallam October 26, 2011 at 02:45 PM
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?
KM October 26, 2011 at 04:49 PM
I think this business should relocate down the street to New Baltimore. It's a shame that a business albeit temporary that has done business for 20 years and has become a tradition for many families has been left out in the cold. I'm glad to be a New Baltimore resident.
Richard Rowley October 26, 2011 at 05:50 PM
New Baltimore? I'm still waiting for Biggby Coffee to open their doors.
kidcat24 October 31, 2011 at 11:01 AM
Russ Mangiapane is who we have bought from for the last 10 years, I would be very sad to not see them. It isn't any fault of theirs that the bank took over their usual spot. Please allow them the permit. We take their dog a Christmas bone every year.

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