Wednesday, January 28, 2009

report from the roundtable – 27 Jan

Report from the Roundtable is a regular blog entry where I report back events from council meetings. There were the usual planning applications but one was quite significant as it proposed the removal of a feature tree in the Shire.

The application, from Vic Roads, was to remove a tree so traffic lights can be installed at the intersection of the Melba and Maroondah Highways in Coldstream. The tree proposed to be removed was a magnificent gum tree, a Southern Mahogany 23 metres high.

Initially a motion was moved to support the removal of the tree however the vote was locked at 4 for, 4 against, forcing the Deputy Mayor (who was chairing the meeting) to use her casting vote which saw the motion lost.

I then moved a motion to refuse the application to remove the tree.

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Those councillors who initially supported its removal came up with a full range of emotive arguments as to why the tree should go:
The safety of people is at risk
One tree isn’t more important than safety
In two weeks time we don’t want to have to answer why more people have been injured or killed
The tree is a traffic obstacle and it shouldn’t be left behind
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At no time has Vic Roads ever considered the tree to be a risk to traffic, the issue of whether the tree has posed a risk to drivers has never been in question. Emotive arguments fail the test of logic. The tree was required to be removed to construct a second lane on the Maroondah Highway, I believe this is an unnecessary construction and there are many other engineering solutions possible to ensure the safety of drivers.

This tree is not any old tree, it is a landmark in a significant gateway to the Yarra Valley, it is a tree that says to all visitors who pass it ‘you’re in the Yarra Ranges now where we value our vegetation’. There is no doubt it is a feature tree and visually significant. There must be a time where we look at other ways to achieve safety on our roads, mowing down trees next to roadsides is not the only answer,

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slower speed limits, better engineering solutions are answers and must be explored.

Vic Roads already have an alternate engineering solution to widen the southern side of Maroondah Highway, it is a design that is a win win, that achieves a good outcome without removing a very significant tree from our landscape.

The motion to refuse the application was carried, 4 for and 4 against, once again as the vote was locked the Deputy Mayor had to exercise her casting vote to see the motion supported.

Councillors for the motion:
Cr Samantha Dunn, Cr Noel Cliff, Cr Jeanette McRae and Cr Terry Avery

Councillors against the motion:

Cr Tim Heenan, Cr Graham Warren, Cr Richard Higgins and Cr Chris Templer

Absent: Cr Len Cox
articled

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7 Comments:

At 7:41 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Samantha, I do not agree with you. There are many other tress in the area and the the loss of this one will make no difference. Look at the 100 year old Stone Pines to the right of the tree, look at the beautiful hedge as you go around the bed to Healesvile, look at the war memorial just behind it, look at the Melba residence. Just open your eyes and LOOK.

Regards

Mario Galteri

 
At 4:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I do not agree with you, either. You accuse the 4 councillors who were for the removal of the tree as being 'emotive' and then you bombard the rest of the thread with your own emotional, agenda driven 'save the trees' rhetoric.

I'll quote you:
"This tree is not any old tree, it is a landmark in a significant gateway to the Yarra Valley"

It seems to me that ALL trees are landmark trees where you are concerned.

"it is a tree that says to all visitors who pass it ‘you’re in the Yarra Ranges now..."

You must be the only councillor in all of Australia who can speak and understand 'tree'. I really doubt the tree is saying anything like that.

"where we value our vegetation’.

This is a cheap shot. What you are really saying here is that anyone who wants to remove the tree is against 'our' vegetation. You are trying to play the guilt game and that is very unbecoming to a councillor. You may have been able to 'earbash' councillors to your way of thinking, but please refrain from bullying when speaking to the ratepapers.

"it is a feature tree and visually significant."

Yet unashamabley ugly. It looks misshapen, has dead branches, and empty spaces where branches have dropped.

As a I ratepayer I don't value a tree that will prevent a traffic light from being installed that may prevent an accident.

I thought you were all for the 'precautionary principal' and that is why you insist we stop producing CO2 because of what might happen if we don't?

And of course Cr McRae would vote as you did, she almost always does.

 
At 9:46 PM, Blogger Cr Samantha Dunn said...

The motion I put to council, (which was passed by majority of council) was that “VicRoads be requested to reconsider the design and construction of the intersection treatment to the southern side so as not to cause any impact on the tree concerned”.

The designs for road widening on the southern side already exist, traffic lights are not being prevented from being installed. I have no opposition to traffic lights at this intersection.

 
At 10:11 AM, Blogger Mario "Coldstream" Galteri said...

I do not call a 4 : 4 with a casting vote as a majority win.

How many times has Vic Roads been sent back to the drawing board?

What happens if Vic Roads now says "This is too hard, Stuff it!"
I know a lot of builders who say that!

Mario Galteri

 
At 10:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh deary, deary me Samantha,
I now realise that you and Jeanette McCrae must be the ONLY people in the world that care about the environment - thank you for having the guts to stand up at council and use your inflated egos and bias to say no to the traffic lights at Coldstream.
I'm sure you must both be very proud of yourselves - I just hope those heads of yours come out of the clouds sooner rather than later, before any deaths or more accidents occur at the intersections - Wouldn't that be a really bad thing to have on your conscience? Maybe not

 
At 3:03 PM, Blogger Cr Samantha Dunn said...

Dear Anonymous

You misunderstand, I am not opposed to traffic lights, I never have been.

The motion I put to council, (which was passed by council) was that “VicRoads be requested to reconsider the design and construction of the intersection treatment (this means the traffic lights) to the southern side so as not to cause any impact on the tree concerned”.

The designs for road widening on the southern side already exist, traffic lights are not being prevented from being installed. I have no opposition to traffic lights at this intersection.

 
At 4:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cr Dunn, what you propose, and always propose, is that you get your own way. That is how you operate and that is how you will always operate.
Unless, of course, it involves people in your own ward. Now if THOSE people wanted the tree down, you would be hacking away at it yourself.
Ryrie is not your ward and many of us here, I should say that everyone I have spoken to, would like for you to STAY OUT OF OUR WARD. That includes your opinions on what WE propose for our ward.
C Buckley

 

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