Cherrywood resident Tania Morgan is glad a silver birch tree outside her home is coming down - Joel Ford

Cherrywood resident Tania Morgan is glad a silver birch tree outside her home is coming down - Joel Ford

Tania Morgan loves nature and the great outdoors.

But she is looking forward to the day when she comes home from work and finds the large silver birch tree on the grass verge outside her house gone.

Mrs Morgan, 49, has suffered allergies and been fighting a constant battle with debris from the tree since moving in to her Cherrywood home eight years ago. "I had really bad sinus the first year we moved in. I'm on hayfever medication now. My eyes get itchy and watery and I get sneezy," she told the Bay of Plenty Times.

"It even gets in the bedding. They come in even when the windows are closed. They are really fine. We find them everywhere," she said of the tree's 1-2mm winged seeds.

"I've given up on gardening really ... the time and energy it takes for the upkeep. We just have a big blitz every now and again."

The tree, outside 22 Freyberg St, is to be felled after the Tauranga City Council's tree sub-committee last week voted to have it removed, despite arborist Richard Conning advising the tree was well sited on a wide berm, in good health and its removal was not consistent with the council's tree policy.

The decision was made after resident Geoffrey Cramond, at No24, petitioned the council to have the tree cut down because it created a mess and damage to guttering and decking.

"As proud residents of Cherrywood, the detritus lying on the street and verges is also unpleasant," Mr Cramond wrote. He was not available for interview for this article.

Mr Cramond's petition carried nine signatures. A further neighbourhood survey by the council found 31 residents wanted the tree removed while 11 wanted it to stay.

One resident against it being removed, and who spoke on condition she was not named, said she was sad it was being cut down. "Yes, it makes a little bit of mess but for the beauty you get from the tree you can put up with that for a while. You've only got to wipe them up for goodness sake," she said.

The Vegetation Management Strategy - Growing Tauranga Green recognises silver birch trees can be problematic.

No specific plan exists to proactively remove and replace them and the current practice is to remove silver birches when they fit policy and to replace them with a different species.

Ian McDonald, the council's group manager of city services, said the petition to remove the tree at No22 was "inconsistent" with the current policy. It will be the second silver birch to be removed from Freyberg St this year.

The inaugural meeting of the sub-committee in February voted 4-1 to remove the silver birch outside 83 Freyberg St.

Rowan Marsh, 38, who rents the house at No83, said she missed the tree and wished it could have stayed.

"I thought it was a beautiful tree. You get lots of seeds inside but it's a tree. It gave the street a bit of character," she said.

But a few doors up, Patricia Raison, 77, said, although she did not actively campaign for the tree to be cut down, now that it was gone it was "very nice".

She was always sweeping, hosing and vacuuming debris from her house and garden, she said.

Paul Wilson, 52, and his wife Jennifer, 41, live on the corner of Ferguson St and Ngahere St, which is lined with silver birches. Despite having two of the trees directly outside their house, clogging up the guttering and making a mess, they have no desire to get rid of them.

"They're beautiful. I think they make the street a lot prettier," Mrs Wilson said.

"In summer they shade the house. The sun would be merciless without them," Mr Wilson added.

"You've got to take the bad with the good. It does make it from a street into an avenue. It gives it character and character comes at a price."

How councillors voted

For removal

Larry Baldock
Bill Grainger
Murray Guy

Against removal

Tony Christiansen
Terry Molloy