Plea for tree is too late
NEIGHBOURS are angry city officials allowed a mature oak tree to be cut down despite receiving an application for it to be protected seven months earlier.
Mt Roskill resident Sophie Bribiesca applied to have the 10- metre oak on her neighbour’s property scheduled in February, along with several others in K eystone Ave.
She was horrified when her neighbour told her on September 6 that four trees were to be felled, two oaks, a karaka tree, and a noxious monkey apple tree.
Ms Bribiesca contacted the council and was told her application had been received, but not yet considered.
“ It was too late, they had granted consent,” she says.
Ms Bribiesca thought there would be a stay of execution until her application was looked at, but within six days the trees had been chopped down.
“ I feel like it’s gone from a quiet, tranquil park setting to a war zone and a rubbish tip. It’s caused havoc with the neighbours.”
The council did not respond to questions from the Central Leader about the application and consent by the time of going to print.
But an internal memo between council staff sent to Ms Bribiesca says proposing an item for scheduling does not guarantee it will be given protection.
“ It is regrettable that Ms Bribiesca received an acknowledgement of the proposal so late after sending documentation,” the memo says.
“ This is one of the reasons for which a current review of the proposal process and protocol is being undertaken by the heritage team.”
Property owner Julie Hart says she had the trees felled because the two oaks were simply getting too big, and the karaka had self- seeded and should have been removed earlier.
She had planned to keep the smaller oak, but was advised not to by an arborist.
“ We were advised it wasn’t worth keeping. It was all growing out to one side, it had borer in it and it wasn’t going to survive.”
She was not aware Ms Bribiesca had applied to schedule the larger tree until the Thursday when it was chopped down.
The resource consent requires Ms Hart to plant two kowhai trees, one lemonwood tree and three shrubs in the next planting season.
“ We wanted to do it to improve the house and property. It will make the house healthier, there were leaves and acorns everywhere and it was damp.”
She says other neighbours have supported the move.
Tree Council field officer Hueline Massey says she is not surprised by the situation.
“ It’s incredibly disappointing that the council wasn’t awake to the fact that it should have been signalled on their records as having possible scheduled status put on it.”
She says the council developing a process for scheduling heritage items is “ huge progress” and will help resolve issues like this one.