When six oak trees were planted on the boundary of Graeme and Diane Barber’s Harewood property 34 years ago, they were told by the reserve developer, “it won’t affect you.”
Now, the trees in Pasadena Reserve are 16m tall, the equivalent height of a five-storey building, with a 15m spread.
For more than 10 years, Mr Barber has expressed concern to city council about the trees, which significantly shade at least two properties for about five or six months per year.
Now, he has approached the Fendalton-Waimairi-Harewood Community Board with concerns about his neighbourhood’s demeanour and wellness.
“These trees are depressing for us due to the shading and litter over many months of the year. Four neighbours . . . have to cope with copious quantities of leaves, acorns and seedlings generated by these oaks.”
However, city council staff have told Mr Barber that the trees are “perfectly healthy” but he believes they need to look at the bigger picture.
Mr Barber said the reserve department has a strong priority to protect trees.
“I’m dealing with people who are placing trees in higher priority than people . . . yes, that’s their job and no one wants to see healthy trees cut down but when they’re the height of a five-level building, there is a problem.”
Pasadena Pl resident Inez Stevens purchased her home 12 years ago, when the trees were much smaller, she said.
Now, the 91-year-old said she has spent hundreds of dollars paying a gardener to deal with the leaves and someone else to clear her gutters.
She fears for her health and is afraid she may roll or break an ankle, due to the acorns littered on her property.
Following a complaint to council last year regarding the continual noise of acorns landing on their roof, contractors removed 5m branches overhanging onto their property.
In his recent submission to the community board, Mr Barber asked when the rights and wellbeing of people over shadow the rights of healthy trees.
“That wrong decision needs to be corrected by the removal of these six trees. Something that’s fit with context . . . the council staff I have spoken to and the community board agreed that trees like that wouldn’t be planted in a reserve of this size these days,” he said.
City council acting manager operations Ryan Rolston said council now has a set of guidelines in its infrastructure design standards, which assist in tree selection.
“It is unlikely council would introduce this species of oak presently unless requested by residents.”
Mr Rolston said the trees are healthy and protected by the Christchurch District Plan.
“Consequently, council staff have no reason to pursue their removal.”