New rules for trees pro­posed

Matamata Chronicle - - Front Page - ABBY BROWN

The num­ber of pro­tected trees in the dis­trict could drop from 667 to 93 un­der pro­posed changes by the Mata­mata-Pi­ako Dis­trict Coun­cil.

The pro­posal is part of the coun­cil’s dis­trict plan re­view, which is a re­quire­ment of the Re­source Man­age­ment Act 1991, the coun­cil’s com­mu­ni­ca­tions of­fi­cer, Adele Pre­ston, said.

‘‘It’s been a while since we re­viewed our pro­tected trees and many of the cur­rently pro­tected trees are no longer as healthy or in the same con­di­tion as when first pro­tected and may no longer meet the Dis­trict Plan cri­te­ria for pro­tec­tion,’’ she said.

‘‘We have had all cur­rently pro­tected trees as­sessed by Arbor Care, who used the Stan­dard Tree Eval­u­a­tion Method (STEM). We’re propos­ing that a STEM as­sess­ment thresh­old of 140 would pro­tect the most no­table trees in our dis­trict.’’

This will en­sure the best trees in the dis­trict are pro­tected while other trees that are less wor­thy would no longer be in­cluded, Pre­ston said.

The Dis­trict Plan rules on pro­tected trees are also be­ing re­viewed. ‘‘We are propos­ing to make the rules more flex­i­ble for landown­ers so they can keep, prune, or re­move trees that no longer war­rant pro­tec­tion at their dis­cre­tion and also re­duce the costs in re­la­tion to pro­tected trees. Once pro­tected trees lose dis­trict plan pro­tec­tion, their fu­ture is in the hands of the land owner, but this does not mean they would have to be re­moved,’’ she said.

‘‘We are propos­ing to en­sure that the most no­table trees in the dis­trict are pro­tected. Iconic trees such as the He­tana St oaks re­ceived a very high STEM as­sess­ment of 156 and will re­main pro­tected.’’

Once the plan change be­comes op­er­a­tive, likely to be later in 2016, any tree that is no longer pro­tected by the Dis­trict Plan be­comes like any other tree on pri­vate property.

The coun­cil have re­quested feed­back and are as­sess­ing tech­ni­cal and plan­ning in­for­ma­tion to shape the plan change and are now en­cour­ag­ing the pub­lic to make a sub­mis­sion.

Sub­mis­sions for Plan Change 48 can be made at mpdc.govt.nz/plan-your-town and are open un­til De­cem­ber 10, 2015.

PHOTO: ABBY BROWN

The He­tana St oaks will re­main pro­tected un­der the pro­posed changes.

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