Council policy on trees to change

By John Cousins

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Tauranga City Council is to change its tree management rules after it overrode the expert opinion of its arborist and ordered the felling of two silver birches in Pyes Pa.

The seasonal mess created by the roadside trees in Burnt Oak Drive prompted a petition signed by 18 nearby residents.

Gaye Barkla, who lives closest to the trees, said the death of her husband in February last year meant that she had taken responsibility for making sure the gutters and downpipes of her house were clear of debris.

"What concerns me most is that this isn't the safest of tasks, no matter how careful I am," she said in a letter to this week's council meeting.

She said the council's offer to clean the gutters two to three times a year had been insufficient.

Arborist Richard Conning said the trees were in good health and well sited on a generous grass berm and removing them because of leaf drop was "a very poor rationale".

He said the resident at 7 Burnt Oak Drive had declined the offer of up to four gutter cleans a year.

Mr Conning said it would cost $440,000, including GST, to remove and replace all of Tauranga's 759 birch trees based on the current contract rate to remove, stump grind and plant new trees. There was not enough in the council's budgets for the next 10 years to carry out this scale of targeted removals and replacements.

He said that although the council's vegetation management strategy recognised that silver birches were problematic, they were not listed in the guide for replacement plantings in specific streets.

The council said its decision was inconsistent with the tree management policy but argued that the reason for the inconsistency was health and safety. Because it did not fit the criteria for felling a tree, the council agreed to amend the policy to accommodate its decision.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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