By Peter Douglas
Olinda resident Peter Bourne fears a nearby ‘problem tree’ could one day demolish two bedrooms of his house.
Despite Yarra Ranges Council deeming the tree safe in 2007, Mr Bourne says the tree, located on a council-owned nature strip, is a serious threat to his safety.
He claims branches fall into his driveway weekly, with damage to his car occurring during a recent windstorm.
Mr Bourne said he would like to see the removal of the top half of the tree.
“The main problem is that if a complete section of the main trunk is to come down, it will completely demolish two bedrooms of my house,” he said.
“In the meantime, branches between six to 10 metres are starting to fall below my driveway and into the next door driveway.
“Even the postman is anxious when delivering the mail daily.”
Mr Bourne said when council inspected the tree, a few branches were removed.
But he said further action is now required.
“I was … told by the arborist that it was a hybrid and in future it will get worse regarding losing limbs,” he said.
“Well … it has now reached the stage that every week branches are falling in my driveway and, during a storm, my house roof.
“My car has damage to both mudguards, bonnet and roof.”
Mr Bourne said the tree was also a danger to those who walk the footpath.
Yarra Ranges Council’s parks, environment and infrastructure services manager David Harper confirmed the tree had been inspected in 2007, but no action was deemed required.
“The tree was in overall good condition,” he said.
“However, the tree has a large limb, which extends from the lower trunk and is trying to establish apical dominance (where the central stem of the plant grows more strongly than other side stems).
“Council inspected the tree from an aerial perspective and in particular the major limb union.”
He said the union was cleaned out, visually inspected, probed and hammer tested.
The result of which was that the limb union appeared sound at the time of inspection.
“A relatively small area of bark was missing on the upper surface and was consistent with cockatoo damage from a few years ago,” he said.
“No significant problems were identified with the tree and, as such, no works were recommended.”
Mr Harper said Yarra Ranges Council has inspected trees along that street previously, removing branches that obstructed vision.
“If residents have any concerns about trees on their nature strip, we encourage them to contact council, who will send a qualified arborist to inspect the tree,” he said.
“If branches have fallen from a nature strip tree, a member of council’s trees crew can also come to your property and remove them.”
Meanwhile, Mr Bourne’s statements come after a Mount Evelyn man recently lodged a compensation claim against Yarra Ranges Council over a 2013 incident in which a tree split and fell on his car.
In October 2013, the man, then aged in his fifties, had been driving past Richards Reserve along Leith Road, Montrose, when the incident occurred, trapping him inside his car for more than an hour.
According to Maurice Blackburn Lawyers, the man suffered a significant crush injury to his right arm, multiple fractures to his left wrist and thumb, as well as several broken ribs.
Maurice Blackburn Lawyers associate Melissa Knapic said the council had failed to provide any warning to those passing the reserve that the tree, which stood about 25m tall, posed a risk of collapsing.
The council’s risk emergency and community safety manager Brett Ellis said the council could not comment on the claim.