The fate of many of Cherrywood's silver birches looks uncertain after an application to fell three trees outside a house in Freyberg St was overwhelmingly supported by the neighbours.
Tauranga City Council's tree management committee voted 4-1 this week to support the application from Paul Froggatt, of Freyberg St.
Nearly 80 of the 100 residents who replied to the council's survey supported Mr Froggatt.
Typical responses were that silver birches were messy with seeds getting into houses and windblown seeds and debris blocking downpipes. Some called them a health hazard because of allergic reactions while others highlighted walking and mobility scooter problems caused by litter dropping on to footpaths.
The council is reviewing its policies regarding silver birches and whether a dispensation should be allowed so they were outside the rules controlling whether a street tree should be removed.
Council arborist Richard Conning said removing the three trees was inconsistent with the tree management policy.
Mr Froggatt said silver birches were attractive but he questioned whether they were the right trees. He called the response to the council's survey "quite remarkable" reflecting the passion people felt for and against the trees. His application was based on the trees generating "huge quantities" of seeds. He collected up to 25 litres of seed during the 10 weeks they shed. "Balancing on top off a ladder scraping out seeds and twigs is a health risk," Mr Froggatt said.
Councillors Larry Baldock and Murray Guy both highlighted that silver birches were no longer suitable as replacement street trees and that the review process was under way. They were joined by councillors Tony Christiansen and Bill Grainger who said that three trees in one location was too many.
Councillor Terry Molloy opposed the felling, saying: "You can't plant mature trees and that is why you should look after our tree stock."
The committee also overrode the arborist's advice and approved the felling of seven mature pine trees on council reserve land next to the Evans Road Community Church in Papamoa. Mr Conning said the trees were well-sited and in good health but the committed voted 3-2 in favour of the church's application, with Mr Christiansen joining Mr Molloy in wanting to save the trees.
The church argued the trees produced unmanageable volumes of needles and debris.
Most of the other pine trees along the reserve have been removed. Mr Baldock said that as the area became urbanised the point was reached when it was no longer appropriate to keep the trees. The neighbourhood voted 24-16 in favour of the felling. The committee also agreed to fell a silk tree in Harvey St. Applicant Richard Scott said it was so close to his boundary that 60 per cent of the branches now overhung his property creating a mess.
Sixteen residents in the neighbourhood supported the felling and nine opposed.
A silver birch tree with a kink outside 13 Tirinui Crest Rd will also be felled following a request from resident Rob Keam. He argued that the seeds caused health problems and obstructed the inner harbour views.