By Scott Bolthouse | The Huron Hub
Published April 20, 2020
A cease and desist letter was sent to a Muskegon County landscaping company after it was found to be violating Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s stay-home executive order.
Attorney General Dana Nessel and Muskegon County Prosecutor DJ Hilson said the letter was sent last Tuesday to Land Scape Supplies LLC after witnesses reported to police that company employees were delivering mulch and providing other lawn care services, as well as putting flyers in residents’ mailboxes.
According to the governor’s order, landscaping, lawncare, tree service, irrigation and related outdoor maintenance companies “cannot designate workers to perform these services unless the service is necessary to maintain the safety, sanitation, and essential operations of a residence.”
The order does not prohibit homeowners from tending to their own yards.
“The executive order was issued to protect lives and slow the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and imposes restrictions on the operations of a wide range of businesses and other entities to only those ‘necessary to sustain or protect life,'” a statement from Nessel’s office said.
“Certain functions like hauling waste and compost and operating related facilities are considered essential under the order, and the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) has contacted businesses that provide those services throughout the state making them aware of that responsibility,” the statement said.
Nessel said such entities, including Land Scape Supplies, received a letter confirming they are permitted to carry out those essential functions.
“However, Land Scape Supplies was misinterpreting its letter from EGLE — which designated it as permitted to operate a compost facility – as confirmation that it is allowed to continue conducting other non-essential operations. Employees of the business were also confronted by police while delivering advertisement flyers to residents’ mailboxes.”
Chief Judge Timothy Hicks sided with prosecutors that the Norton Shores landscaping company must cease its operations. You can see his ruling here
Violations of the stay-home executive order can result in a $500 fine and/or 90 days in jail for each offense, as well as licensing penalties for businesses and other entities.
Nessel’s office said violations should be reported to law enforcement agencies overseeing the jurisdiction in which the alleged offense occurred.
The Attorney General’s office has a section on its website to provide Michigan residents with more information on the legal rights of employees and employers under the executive order.
“When it comes to the COVID-19 pandemic, Michigan is not out of the woods yet,” Nessel said. “New positive cases of the virus continue to be reported each day, and more people continue to die. This virus is not something to be taken lightly, and I appreciate Prosecutor Hilson for his efforts to help protect the people of Muskegon County. We must stay the course to continue flattening the curve, and regardless of how much we may want our flower gardens to be ready for spring, we must remember that the lives of many Michiganders are at stake.”