Attempts by a few Matapihi Road residents to have the Moreton Bay fig tree on the Omanu Golf Club course across the road removed have failed.
Councillors declined the petition and decided this week the tree will remain after hearing from the protagonists and the tree’s defender.
The Matapihi Road fig tree.
Matapihi Road resident Bruce Fea petitioned the council and the Omanu Golf Club for the tree to be felled saying leaves on the pathway across the road are a hazard to cyclists. There were 11 signatures on the petition.
The council reports states the golf club changed its mind about the tree and was satisfied with the tree in April 2011 when city council arborist Richard Conning discussed airport height restrictions with the club.
The fig tree featured in the discussion because the club was then considering felling it due to branches growing over Matapihi Road.
Richard told them pruning was cheaper and the club accepted the cheaper option because their budget was under pressure.
In December 2011 the club appeared to change its mind attaching a letter from the board and superintendent of the golf club supporting Bruce Fea’s petition to remove the tree.
Fellow golf club member and Bruce Fea’s neighbour Bill Kerr says the real issue is that the petitioners’ don’t like the leaves that blow across the road from the evergreen tree from time to time.
He’s had prior experience, saying the Fea’s complaints about leaves dropping over the fence from a pohutakawa tree on the Kerr property led to them felling their tree, to preserve the friendship.
“We are neighbours, friends up to this point in time,” says Bill.
“We might not be after today.”
Bill also challenged the claim in the golf club’s letter that it spoke on behalf 1000 members. An active golfer, Bill plays three or four days a week and has made a point of directly questioning fellow golfers about the tree on the 10 fairway ever since he learned of the petition.
“I have yet to find anybody in support of it. To say that 100 members support that petition is totally inaccurate. Bruce Fea would be aware of that because he receives the newsletters as well.”
The board can make the decisions without consulting members, and no information about the fig tree decision was conveyed to members, says Bill.
People used to walk on the housing side of the road before the track for cyclists, mobility scooters and golf carts was constructed along he golf course boundary.
Bill says pedestrians are in more in danger from cyclists and other wheeled transport using the path than they are from slipping on fig leaves.
“Personally we feel the signage needs correcting to reflect its real purpose.”
“Is it reasonable to remove a tree for a short term gain to appease those who want it removed without compelling evidence other than what might happen?”
The only councillor who spoke in favour of the tree being removed was Larry Baldock, not because he was against the tree, but because he thought it should be a golf club decision. The City Council owns the Omanu Golf Club land.