Nuisance tree steals the sun

Church St resident Elizabeth Duff is a keen gardener and loves trees.

But the giant specimen outside her house, in the tree-lined block between Princess St and Victoria Ave, is testing her tolerance.

It's a matter of how much tree is too much?

Mrs Duff has rented the two-storey home for seven years, watching the tree grow ever bigger.

It blocks the afternoon sun by about 2.30pm even in summer.

Lichen grows on the shaded roof.

"When we had a storm a few weeks ago, with each gust of wind came a shower of tree branches. The worst gust caused branches landing on my roof and as this was at night, really frightened me.

"I was waiting for a large branch to come through my window or worse."

She has complained to Palmerston North City Council about the height of the tree, but has been told it will not be topped.

Council staff visited her three years ago, and agreed to lift lower branches, thin the inner canopy to allow more light through, and pruned branches back from the boundary.

Mrs Duff said the pruning had encouraged more growth. "The roots from this tree have split the road, split the footpath, and split my neighbour's drive."

Offshoots from the tree were popping up through the lawn, causing concerns about possible damage to underground pipes and plumbing.

"I don't want it cut down, but I would like to see it reduced by half."

Council contract engineer for horticulture Murray Phillips said the council's tree and policy guidelines were unlikely to allow this.

Even trees judged to be a nuisance because of leaf fall, size, obscuring views, dropping seeds and cutting out light, "should not be considered for removal, but may require periodic pruning".

The policy allows trees to grow to their natural height so no height reduction will occur.

"Council has a responsibility to ensure its trees cause minimal disruption to residents where possible.

"We also have the responsibility of protecting our assets and ensuring the interests of the wider community are met."

He said the damage to the footpath was not considered bad enough to require repairs.

Staff would visit Mrs Duff's home this week to assess the overall condition of the tree, and any remedial pruning required would comply with council policies.

Manawatu Standard