Today is the first meeting of a new Tauranga City Council sub-committee tasked with dealing with the city’s tree issues.

The Tree Management Sub-Committee was formed after councillors began complaining about the amount of time the full council was spending adjudicating neighbourhood disputes over trees.

Silver birches on Stephens Place in Tauranga.

Silver birches on Stephens Place in Tauranga.

Until now tree disputes and tree issues had to go before the full council if ratepayers were unhappy with the city arborist’s decision.

The new sub-committee is chaired by first term councillor Tony Christiansen assisted by Bill Grainger as deputy chair, and councillors Larry Baldock, Murray Guy and Terry Molloy. Mayor Stuart Crosby is ex-officio with voting rights.

The business of the first agenda is discussing petitions to remove silver birch trees from Freyberg Street and Stephens Place.

Silver birches were once planted all around the city suburbs, but they have since been taken off the council’s approved species list due to their untidy habits, opening the door for removal petitions.

Today’s trees are in Freyberg Street Otumoetai and Stephens Place in Hairini.

A resident living 73 metres away from number 83 wants the healthy Silver Birch removed from outside the property because of debris. He wants it replaced with a jacaranda.

There is strong support from other residents at number 23 to eight for removing the tree.

A Stephens Place resident also wants two silver birches felled as tree debris is causing health concerns and discomfort to a pre-existing medical condition.

An earlier request to council from the same resident resulted in removal of a large silk tree within two metres of the driveway and a silver birch that was crowding out a more favoured golden elm. The earlier fellings were consistent with the council’s tree policy.

 The two Silver Birch street trees located outside of 52 Stephens Place are well located and in good health.