By BRIDGET COOK
THE City of Casey wants to start discussions on the possibility of a tree change in the Botanic Ridge and Settler’s Run estates, to avoid a case of history repeating itself.
At last week’s council meeting, councillors resolved for officers to meet with representatives of the two estates, Botanic Gardens Cranbourne and representatives of the residents groups to discuss the tree design covenant for the area.
The council wanted to call the meeting to discuss the possible of not replacing any trees in the estate with large eucalypts anymore, but planting other types of native trees instead.
City of Casey mayor Geoff Ablett said he had since had concerns from residents who thought the council wanted to remove natives from the estates en-masse, but that was definitely not council’s intention.
He said the council had learnt from the Timbarra Estate tree issues and wanted to ensure that didn’t happen again.
“Recently, I have received an increasing number of inquiries from concerned residents about the impact some large eucalypt trees are having on homes in these estates,” he said.
“This motion was simply to start discussions on the types of trees we are planting in this estate.
“The trees are quite small now, with many blowing over or on a 45-degree angle already.
“We are replacing them with the same trees.
“Residents may find they want to replace the trees while they are small with a different native variety, maybe even a smaller type of eucalypt.”
Cr Ablett said residents would be involved in all aspects of the discussion and it would be their decision in the end.
“This is about making them aware of the lessons we’ve learnt in the past.
“If we can replace trees now that might grow to a massive size in 10 to 15 years’ time, it’s better to have the discussion around it now rather than then when it’s too late.
“At the end of the day, if residents decide they want to stick with the big eucalypt then that is their choice.
“But there are other options that will still keep the estate looking beautiful but won’t grow as big and cause the safety problems in the future.
“We are not talking about the trees around parks and open space, just ones on nature strips and next to homes.”
Resident June Horner said she moved to the estate for the beautiful streetscape and did not want that changed.
“Big, beautiful trees add value to a property, reduce carbon footprint and provide shade through summer,” she said.
“We don’t want these replaced.
“A change in the trees would change the whole scenery, landscape and neighbourhood character.
“The chances that they could come down on someone are so rare.
“I don’t want the council playing around with the tree design.”
Resident Jo Barrow said she thought it was great that they were at least starting these discussions.
“The feeling on our road is that while these trees are beautiful, they have the potential to grow very tall,” she said.
“I’m all for have a planting scheme, but when it was decided I don’t think people were fully aware of how high some of these trees can grow.
“They could have the potential to cause damage in the future.
“I think the eucalypts could be too tall for this area and not suited for residential areas.
“There are more native trees that could be better suited and would still be a beautiful addition to the estates.”
The council will now initiate talks with affected stakeholders and then hold a public meeting before any revised policy is changed.