WHEN plane trees were first planted in Warrnambool’s CBD almost 20 years ago they were hailed as revitalisation. Now they are being criticised as pests.
A barrage of criticism from property owners was relayed by councillors on Monday night with calls for the trees to be removed and replaced with more suitable species.
Flooding caused by leaves blocking spouting and invasive root systems wrecking paths and foundations were some of the complaints.
Cr Peter Hulin said he had been complaining for years with little success, but the recent flooding of a business premises had brought the issue to a head.
“The time has come for these trees to be removed,” Cr Hulin said.
“Just take a walk in the botanical gardens to see plane trees which grow 64 metres from one side to the other.
“They have caused not only flooding damage, but eventually will get into the foundations of buildings and pull them apart.
“It’s not fair to ratepayers.”
Cr Hulin cited a council engineering report showing plane tree roots had damaged the footpath and kerbing in Lava Street.
Cr Brian Kelson highlighted the recent flooding of the Kepler-Fairy streets corner shop building owned by Noel Thomas.
“He’s brought this issue up with council about six times, but there’s only been token gestures to cut the limbs,” he said.
Cr Peter Sycopoulis also said the issue needed to be seriously addressed.
Mr Thomas told The Standard yesterday that the most recent flooding was last Friday morning.
“My tenant had his carpet, computer, phone and fax machine flooded,” he said.
“There were two flooding incidents prior to that.
“It’s not what you want a week before Christmas.”
He said piles of leaves blew onto the roof and blocked spouts and downpipes causing overflow into the ceiling.
“It’s an absurd situation where the trees have grown so big their leaves are a constant problem and they overshadow our facade,” he said. “We spent about $10,000 on new signage, but you can’t see it because the trees are so big.
“I’m asking for the tree to be removed.”
Another nearby property owner said yesterday that she was constantly removing large leaves from her yard and guttering, but could not convince the council to trim the trees.