A Mount Maunganui community’s differences of opinion over the fate of an Ocean Beach Road Pohutukawa tree will go before a council committee today.
The beachside residents are torn on whether to remove the large roadside tree to prevent further root damage to water mains and the footpath or leave the large 50-60-year-old landmark tree.
The decision to remove the Ocean Beach Road Pohutukawa tree will be debated in a council committee meeting today.
Problems with the tree were brought to Tauranga City Council’s attention in May when the neighbouring property owner found the tree’s roots had damaged a water supply pipe creating problems with the property’s water meter.
The roots were cut back and the pipe repaired, but it was decided the tree would be cut down to allow more root pruning for permanent repair.
The tree’s roots have also found to have damaged the Ocean Beach Road footpath and the property owner claims the tree is also damaging the boundary wall, which will involve more root pruning.
When neighbours within 100 metres of the tree were informed of the decision Tauranga City Council arborist Richard Conning received four phone calls about the tree.
He says two were for the removal and two were against, and one changed their mind once they heard the reasons behind the removal.
One dissatisfied caller took the issue to Mount Maunganui councillors David Stewart and Wayne Moultrie in an effort to save the tree.
When the property owner learned the removal of the tree was going before the Strategy and Policy Committee he began soliciting neighbourhood support to have it removed – as did the tree’s supporters.
Ocean Beach resident Graeme Horsley is campaigning to keep the Pohutakawa and has so far found an additional 17 residents who are also in favour, while the affected property owner has three wanting it cut down.
Graeme’s challenging the assertion that felling the tree is in line with council policy.
“To say the removal of this Pohutukawa is consistent with the Vegetation and Tree Management Policy is clearly wrong,” says Graeme.
The tree is not a threat to public health or safety; individual health or safety; public or private property and is not diseased or dying. It is in fact an excellent example of a native Pohutukawa, says Graeme.
He says alternative solutions are available that do not involving cutting the tree down, which is a prominent landmark.
“This is a significant Pohutukawa, a native tree that has been growing here for longer than any of the houses which surround it. In most areas where Pohutukawa grow it would be protected and would enjoy the highest priority for conservation.”
Graeme says consideration for the tree should have been taken into account when the footpath was first laid on that side of the street two years ago.
The new footpath is concrete except around the Pohutukawa where the contractors recognised the root issues and changed the seal to asphalt paving, says Graeme.
It was a short sighted mistake and a wooden bridge should have been built over the tree’s roots at the time, says Graeme.
The issue will be debated in council this afternoon.