Trees for the chop

Majority rules in vote by Gardner Place residents.

Majority rules in vote by Gardner Place residents.

HONEY LOCUSTS TREES GOING: Honey locust trees in Gardner Place are to be removed in Gisborne District Council’s 2018-2019 financial year and will be replaced by Kowhai trees in autumn. Picture by Paul Rickard

Honey locust trees in Gardner Place are to be felled and replaced following the results of council consultation with residents.

But one of the residents who voted against removal said the trees could be retained if maintained better.

Klaus Sorensen, speaking at a Gisborne District Council community development and services committee meeting, said the trees had been a controversial issue for years, “particularly from two residents who have a passion concerning the removal of the trees”.

A number of more recent arrivals to the street thought the trees were “charming” and should be retained, he said.

The results of a council mail drop showed nine residents favouring removal — to be replaced in autumn of this year with kowhai or titoki — five voting for the trees to be retained and two wanting two trees removed.

However, Mr Sorensen said the consultation numbers should not be relied on “too assiduously, given the people in favour of removing the trees managed to encourage their neighbours to go along with them’’.

“Those of us who want to retain the trees weren’t quite so organised.’’

No privet was on the removal list but there were about 20 of those in the street, he said.

Mr Sorensen said the Gardner Place trees were “due for a haircut” and would not present as much of a problem if they were looked after.

After Mr Sorensen spoke, the committee received an information report on the council’s street trees and garden programme.

The report said reasons for removing trees were generally “clear, evident and supported and will offer minimal opposition”.

“Gardner Place is an exception to this.”

Some residents said the trees bought a unique landscape character and amenity value. But there were also concerns the trees had an impact on the road and private properties because their seed pods were “long-lived” and posed an ecological risk.

The council described the trees as high maintenance and having a high risk of structural failure.

Director of liveable communities Andrew White, told the committee there was an organised process for maintaining the council’s street tree portfolio of about 4000 trees.

Tree maintenance expenditure during this financial year was close to overspending the reserves and amenities budget ‘‘for the first time since I been here’’.

There was a contractor for monitoring and pruning street trees.

The council received many Requests for Service (RFS) from the public concerning trees, including from Gardner Place.

There were also RFS from other streets for the removal of silver birches.

Mr White said there had been a long period when removed trees had not been replaced.

There were streets without trees and other streets with “a motley crew of trees”.

“We will never have a perfect process because there are so many trees and such mixed views in the community about what we should do with them.”

Bill Burdett said it was just as expensive to prune and tidy up trees as it was to remove them.

“It’s a huge cost either way,” he said. But he was “not keen on chopping down trees”.

Josh Wharehinga said there was a cost factor with tree maintenance and the council wanted to keep rates at a low level.

He was aware consultation occurred in Gardner Place, with a majority in favour of one option, and he wanted to see the council ‘‘move towards that”.

If residents wanted to retain high-maintenance trees, councillors would need to consider targeted rates in those areas.

Honey locust trees in Gardner Place are to be felled and replaced following the results of council consultation with residents.

But one of the residents who voted against removal said the trees could be retained if maintained better.

Klaus Sorensen, speaking at a Gisborne District Council community development and services committee meeting, said the trees had been a controversial issue for years, “particularly from two residents who have a passion concerning the removal of the trees”.

A number of more recent arrivals to the street thought the trees were “charming” and should be retained, he said.

The results of a council mail drop showed nine residents favouring removal — to be replaced in autumn of this year with kowhai or titoki — five voting for the trees to be retained and two wanting two trees removed.

However, Mr Sorensen said the consultation numbers should not be relied on “too assiduously, given the people in favour of removing the trees managed to encourage their neighbours to go along with them’’.

“Those of us who want to retain the trees weren’t quite so organised.’’

No privet was on the removal list but there were about 20 of those in the street, he said.

Mr Sorensen said the Gardner Place trees were “due for a haircut” and would not present as much of a problem if they were looked after.

After Mr Sorensen spoke, the committee received an information report on the council’s street trees and garden programme.

The report said reasons for removing trees were generally “clear, evident and supported and will offer minimal opposition”.

“Gardner Place is an exception to this.”

Some residents said the trees bought a unique landscape character and amenity value. But there were also concerns the trees had an impact on the road and private properties because their seed pods were “long-lived” and posed an ecological risk.

The council described the trees as high maintenance and having a high risk of structural failure.

Director of liveable communities Andrew White, told the committee there was an organised process for maintaining the council’s street tree portfolio of about 4000 trees.

Tree maintenance expenditure during this financial year was close to overspending the reserves and amenities budget ‘‘for the first time since I been here’’.

There was a contractor for monitoring and pruning street trees.

The council received many Requests for Service (RFS) from the public concerning trees, including from Gardner Place.

There were also RFS from other streets for the removal of silver birches.

Mr White said there had been a long period when removed trees had not been replaced.

There were streets without trees and other streets with “a motley crew of trees”.

“We will never have a perfect process because there are so many trees and such mixed views in the community about what we should do with them.”

Bill Burdett said it was just as expensive to prune and tidy up trees as it was to remove them.

“It’s a huge cost either way,” he said. But he was “not keen on chopping down trees”.

Josh Wharehinga said there was a cost factor with tree maintenance and the council wanted to keep rates at a low level.

He was aware consultation occurred in Gardner Place, with a majority in favour of one option, and he wanted to see the council ‘‘move towards that”.

If residents wanted to retain high-maintenance trees, councillors would need to consider targeted rates in those areas.

Gisborne District Council director of liveable communities Andrew White said there were two methods of tree removal.

Standard removal was when an aborist found a tree was unsafe or it was part of a council policy to remove.

A discretionary removal was when a request from a resident was agreed to by the council.

In the case of discretionary removal, or pruning, the cost would be paid by the requester, not the ratepayer, said Mr White.

Gardner Place was a priority area, which made the trees “standard’ removal.

There had been significant consultation with Gardner Place residents with no unanimous view.

But a majority were in favour of removal and replacement with kowhai, said Mr White.

The information report said the plan included a list of unsuitable trees, which would be removed and replaced with an appropriate tree species.

Unsuitable trees named were Japanese wax trees (toxic sap, allergenic), gingko trees (female fruits create a nuisance) and the honey locust trees in Gardner Place.

The trees removal programme has a budget of $325,000.

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