John is a senior reporter at the Bay of Plenty Times

Businesses victorious in push to have mature trees felled

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The two doomed London plane trees. PHOTO/John Borren
The two doomed London plane trees. PHOTO/John Borren

Two mature trees growing on public land in 2nd Ave will be felled by order of the Tauranga City Council after complaints from nearby businesses.

The London plane trees growing on the bank that drops down to the industrial section of 2nd Ave West have been the subject of years of complaints from Cantec Services whose recent petition to the council was supported by five other businesses in the area and a family trust.

This week's meeting of the council's strategy and policy committee backed the petitioners, led by Neil Waites of Cantec who wrote that the trees caused serious problems to their premises and businesses.

"We are united in our desire to have these trees removed and put an end to our problems and frustrations. Another issue which has become evident recently is the effects these trees have on people's health."

Mr Waites said he had apparently developed asthma in the last two years.

"I have never before had asthma and none of my wider family has asthma."

He also named a woman working across the road in 2nd Ave West who had also developed asthma over the past two years.

"One of our staff suffers very bad hay fever in spring. He thought it was something within our building which caused it, but now we believe it is the trees."

Mr Waites said an arborist sent by the council to quote on trimming the trees told him that he would not prune or remove plane trees in spring, the period he experienced an allergic reaction to the trees.

City arborist Ian MacKinnon's report to the meeting said the request to remove the trees had previously been declined because it did not meet the conditions of the council's vegetation and tree management policy.

He said the trees were in good health and it was unlikely that the closest underground service, an asbestos concrete water pipe 1.4m under the tree, would be impacted by roots in the near future.

He said the main theme of the complaints was the mess created by the trees.

"There is concern regarding the potential for the tree debris to cause flooding.
However, 135 Second Ave West is in a flood vulnerability area," he said. Cantec Services are at 135 2nd Ave West.

A letter drop by the council in the wider area surrounding the trees, out to 4th Ave and Devonport Rd, resulted in 23 opposing removal and 20 in support. The 20 in support included six of the petitioners.

Committee chairwoman Bev Edlin said five of the petitioners had offered to pay $1000 each towards the nearly $10,000 cost to remove and stump grind the two trees. They also offered to pay the $1000 for each of the replacement native trees which she said would be a reasonable size.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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