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Outcry at tree removal

The removal of “beautiful flowering trees” along Owen Road in Kaiti has been put on hold until Gisborne District Council speaks with affected home owners.

Seven trees were earmarked for removal on one side of Owen Road. But only two had been felled on Tuesday when there was an outcry from residents, which stopped a Gisborne District Council contractor from chopping down any more.

“We lost two trees in 10 minutes but at least they were shut down by the time I got back there ready to throw myself on the machinery,” said a resident from neighbouring Kelvin Street.

An Owen Road resident of more than 20 years said he was annoyed the council did not consult them before trees were chopped down on their street.

The council said public safety was the key reasoning for trees being removed on Owen Road but added it planned to improve community engagement on future tree removals.

The trees are usually trimmed every two years to stop them growing too close to the power lines above.

But an assessment showed all seven trees had decay in either the trunk or limbs, said council community assets and resource manager Laird Kennedy.

Mr Kennedy said he understood trees and green spaces were highly valued by the community and he welcomed input on decision-making around this.

“We will meet with Owen Road residents to discuss the tree removal and replanting programme.”

'Decay, safety reasons' for tree fellingMr Kennedy said council contractors did tree risk assessments and identified both trees had large cavities and trunk decay, as well as rotted areas in the crown.

“Rotting and decay creates a risk of falling limbs and the trees had also grown too close to power lines.

“The assessment recommended a total of seven trees be removed from Owen Road.

“A letter was sent to affected Owen Road residents last month to let them know about the intended tree removals, however, we acknowledge it did not provide a closing date for feedback.”

One of the trees was obviously “rotten to the core”. The resident, whose home it was outside, said he was in agreement with its removal.

“I would not even park my car under it. There was a big limb that was about to come down.”

The resident said he understood the council would be replanting other trees in their place.

This was confirmed by Mr Kennedy.

“We are planning to replant with more suitable species in the coming months.”

James McGregor, a resident of more than 20 years, said the first they knew about the tree removal was a “little note in the letterbox” a few weeks ago.

Then on Tuesday, Roberts Tree Surgeons, contracted by the council, arrived to chop them down.

Mr McGregor said the tree outside their home had been there the whole time they had. The red berries it produced attracted and fed kereru — New Zealand’s native wood pigeon.

Other residents who drive through Owen Road to get to their homes on Kelvin Street said it was a beautiful avenue to drive down and the trees cut down were in full flower.

Mr Kennedy said the work to cut down the other five trees had been put on hold until the council had further discussions with affected residents.

CHOPPED: Only two Owen Road trees out of a planned seven were chopped down after upset residents confronted a contractor on Tuesday. The others are earmarked for removal and will be replaced. But these plans are on hold until Gisborne District Council talks to concerned residents. Picture by Liam Clayton