Three silver birches will be cut down following the first meeting of the council’s new tree management sub-committee – but only if the people who dislike the trees pay for it.

At the first meeting of Tauranga City Council’s new tree dedicated subcommittee yesterday members agreed unanimously to cut down all the trees put before it.

Silver birch trees on Stephens Place and Freyberg Street will be felled.

Silver birch trees on Stephens Place and Freyberg Street will be felled.

Residents on Freyberg Street in Otumoetai and in Stephens Place in Hairini are advocating for the removal of silver birches on the street on the basis they leave a mess and cause health problems.

A resident living 73 metres away from No. 83 Freyberg Street is requesting the removal of a healthy silver birch from outside that property due to debris.

A total of 23 people signed the petition seeking the removal of the silver birch tree in Freyberg Street. Eight Freyberg Street residents want the tree kept.

A Stephens Place resident is also requesting to council fell two silver birch trees as they cause health concerns and discomfort due to a pre-existing medical condition.

A total of 10 people signed the petition to remove the Stephens Place trees with nine in favour of removing them.

Councillors voted 4-1 in favour of removing the trees in both cases but stated the residents would have to pay for it.

Councillor Terry Molloy voted against both the petitions brought before the sub-committee.

He says the trees are healthy and none of them breach the city’s Tree Management and Vegetation Policy, and the policy has to be supported.

“I’m a firm believer that’s why we have a policy in the first place,” says Terry.

Murray Guy supported the tree fellers, saying the policy isn’t perfect and there are times when the council has to step in.

Until now tree issues that could not be resolved by city arborists in accordance with the Tree Management and Vegetation Policy had to go before the council Strategy and Policy Committee. The sub-committee was formed due to ongoing tree issues that haven’t subsided as was hoped when the tree and vegetation policy was adopted in February 2012.

Murray Guy says health issues complained of by one of the residents was reason enough to chop the tree.

“If you don’t think the policy covers the removal of these trees then I don’t know what you are doing here,” says Murray.

Terry also opposed the felling of two silver birches in Stephens Place, Hairni.

If the sub-committee was simply going to approve trees’ destruction on the strength of people finding reasons to have them removed, then there is no reason for the existence of the sub-committee, says Terry.

“My big concern here is that if we are going to remove a tree by popular acclamation, we don’t need a policy, and that appears to be where we are going and I have some real concerns about that,” says Terry.

 “I have some sympathy with Terry Molloy’s concerns on the matter,” says chairman Tony Christiansen.

“The two trees are perfectly fine, there’s no reason in the policy to take them out.”