ITC awards Meridian $5,000 tree grant

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ITC Customer Relations and Community Education Manager Luba Sitar (left) and General Manager Cynthia Stump grant Meridian Township $5,000 for replanting trees.

By Lauren N. Shields
The Meridian Times

ITC General Manager Cynthia Stump announced that this would be the second consecutive year that the ITC has donated $5,000 toward tree replanting in Meridian Township. At the Feb. 17 Meridian Township Board meeting, ITC Customer Relations and Community Education Manager Luba Sitar discussed this donation and the ITC’s vegetation management program.

“With extreme weather events hitting Michigan, we are finding that the ‘right tree, right place’ philosophy is becoming more critical,” said Sitar. “We are very pleased to partner with the township in this effort in replanting for a better urban canopy.”

The ITC is an independent electric company with many high-tension lines, one of which goes through Meridian Township and cuts through Wellington Estates north of Grand River Avenue, just west of Van Atta Road. According to Trustee John Veenstra, the ITC’s proposal was to cut down all the trees under its high-tension lines and leave the stumps, which angered many Meridian Township residents.

“The township was about to pass an ordinance – we actually got a draft of it – that said when the ITC cuts a tree and leaves the stump, it has to remove the stump down to about three inches below the grade level of the soil,” said Veenstra. “The ITC didn’t like that proposed ordinance and so it objected strongly and we dropped it and so on, but somehow that prompted them to start giving us $5,000 grants to start planting trees.”

ITC Senior Communications Specialist Joe Kirik of Novi, Michigan, wrote that the ITC is an environment-friendly company that strives to not allow its efforts to negatively impact the quality of the community’s environment.

“ITC has long regarded environmental sustainability as integral to its operations as we pursue our vision to modernize America’s power grid,” wrote Kirik. “From planning our projects within the best interest of the environment to recycling at our facilities, ITC focuses on sustainability efforts that set a positive example for other businesses and the communities we serve.”

The ITC’s donations have an application process. Meridian Township Director of Community Planning and Development Mark Kieselbach didn’t expect Meridian Township’s application to be approved again this year. He was pleasantly surprised when it was.

“Across most southern Michigan, the ITC has to weigh different communities’ needs,” said Kieselbach. “It doesn’t have enough money to give to every community that applies.”

Last year’s ITC donation was used to plant six sycamores, five linden and four redspire pear trees in October, roughly eight months after the donation was given. Kieselbach said that a similar process will take place with this year’s donation. Suggestions will be taken for the location.

“There is an old saying that the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago and the second best is today,” said Sitar.




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