Argument arises over park trees

Balclutha residents Maxine Evans (left) and Lorraine Pringle are among those trying to prevent the Clutha District Council felling trees, including this 30m sequoia, in the town's Christie St playground. Photo: Richard Davidson
Balclutha residents Maxine Evans (left) and Lorraine Pringle are among those trying to prevent the Clutha District Council felling trees, including this 30m sequoia, in the town's Christie St playground. Photo: Richard Davidson
A stoush is brewing over two trees in a Balclutha park.

During Clutha District Council long-term plan hearings in May, Christie St residents Lisa and Gary Ross requested the council consider felling an approximately 18m oak and 30m sequoia in the neighbouring playground, located only 3m from their boundary.

During the hearing, Mrs Ross said the trees were a ''health and safety issue'' that were causing her family significant anxiety.

''I lie awake listening for that crack during stormy weather ... When I hear reports of deaths and injuries from falling trees it makes me very concerned,'' she told councillors.

During later decision-making, the council voted to remove the trees and plant smaller, ''more suitable'' trees in their place.

That decision has since been appealed by Balclutha resident Maxine Evans, who says the trees are in good health and should remain.

The case will go to judicial review on November 20.

''When I read they were to be felled, I was shocked. We think they were planted in the 1950s or 60s, and have only recently been passed by council arborists as in good health. I have a sequoia of about the same size at my gate, and a bit of research will show you they're not regarded as prone to ... damage and toppling over.''

Mrs Evans said she decided to seek legal recourse after receiving a ''dismissive'' response to her correspondence on the matter from the council.

She had the support of about ''a dozen'' other residents.

''The council just seems to have made up its mind without thinking it through fully.''

Clutha Mayor Bryan Cadogan said the council had decided to remove the trees for safety reasons, before they grew larger.

''These are both young trees that are a fraction of their mature size. The council needs to act as a responsible and fair neighbour in these situations, and we don't want trees in a public park that leave neighbours concerned for their safety.''

Contacted by the Otago Daily Times yesterday, Mr and Mrs Ross declined to comment.

For Mrs Evans, however, her disagreement was not with the Rosses.

''This is a backward step [from the council] when councils around the world are seeking to plant trees for our future generations. It's very frustrating.''

richard.davison@odt.co.nz


 

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