New rules for trees proposed
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.
The Hetana St oaks will remain protected under the proposed changes.