A row of blue gum trees in north Warrnambool will get the chop in one go despite an attempt to remove them in stages to allow koalas extra time to relocate.
The planting of the row of tall trees so close to a fence was labelled "fairly silly", but some councillors raised concerns that removing them all at once would cause "havoc" for the fauna that live in them.
Council officers had recommended the 22 trees be removed in one go, but at Monday's monthly meeting Cr Richard Ziegeler put forward an alternate motion for the staged removal.
With Cr Vicki Jellie absent from the meeting, mayor Debbie Arnott was forced to use her casting vote twice - first to defeat the alternate motion of a staged removal after a split 3-3 vote of councillors and then again to pass the motion backing the swift removal.
Despite all councillors agreeing the trees needed to go one way or another, councillors Ziegeler, Angie Paspaliaris and Otha Akoch supported a longer process of removal.
Cr Arnott said there was no doubt the trees were planted too close to the fence and the root system was going to interfere with buildings.
"The longer this takes, the more likelihood there is going to be damage to infrastructure that council will be ultimately responsible for," she said.
Cr Arnott said the koalas could be re-homed. "Whether they are removed now or in a slower time-frame, I feel is not going to make a lot of difference to the issues of the koalas and the habitat," she said.
The trees were set to go last year, but work was postponed because of the koalas living in the trees and concerns from wildlife groups about the lack of koala habitat in the city.
An arborist was engaged to provide an independent report, which found ongoing maintenance of the trees would become untenable. It will cost about $10,000 to remove them.
Cr Ziegeler said the trees were the wrong species for the area, and there was no doubt if left they would cause difficulties with infrastructure.
"While it's a Band-aid option, the suggestion that we could do it in a staged fashion, I think, is just a better alternative than ripping them all out at once and creating havoc amongst the fauna," he said.
Cr Ziegeler also said the city's record on quickly replacing the trees that were cut down was no good enough.
Cr Ben Blain said it wouldn't be any less detrimental to the koalas that lived in the tree whether they were all removed now or over another couple of years.
"Is a couple of years worth it to put the residents who live along that road at risk? I don't think it is," he said.
Cr Blain raised concerns about the damage to property the trees could cause in a big storm as they grew bigger.
Cr Max Taylor said it was absurd the trees had been planted far too close to the fenceline.
He said the blue gum trees grew into a giant tree over a short time-frame. "They should go at the nearest opportunity," he said.
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