Kiama Municipal Council’s decision to allow the removal of a Norfolk Island pine and Moreton Bay fig tree will impact on the landscape of Kiama township in more ways than one.
The fact the decision overruled guidelines established by the previous council is being viewed as symbolic of the change in Kiama’s political landscape since the present council was elected in 2012.
‘‘This is definitely a turning point,’’ veteran Kiama councillor Warren Steel said yesterday.
Last week, councillors voted against two staff recommendations to keep a Norfolk Island pine in Pheasant Point Drive and a fig tree in Bong Bong Street.
Kiama council has long been known for its strict stance on tree removal.
Cr Steel said he believed the council had set a welcome precedent in supporting his recommendation to remove the trees.
‘‘On the last council, the Greens had the numbers and I would have had no chance,’’ Cr Steel said.
‘‘I was actually surprised I got this through. I did not lobby for it and all of a sudden I got support...this is a big thing.’’
Cr Steel, who himself fell foul of a tree preservation order in 2002 when he removed four trees without permission, said he believed there were some trees around the municipality that had become ‘‘far too big’’.
‘‘There are a few I believe are dangerous and these were two of them,’’ he said.
‘‘There has been a change in dynamics in the council, there are six new councillors that are keen and wanting to have a go... this is a pretty exciting council, I believe.
‘‘I was definitely frustrated at times on the last two.’’
Kiama Mayor Brian Petschler said both trees, which were the subject of separate applications, had a case for removal.
He said the Norfolk Island pine, while in good health, was located in ‘‘a restricted area’’ while the Moreton Bay fig had caused damage to some properties and had become an ongoing financial burden for the landowner.
Cr Petschler said he didn’t believe the decisions made were that significant in terms of the council’s philosophy.
He said in part the tornado that hit Kiama in February may have ‘‘sharpened the council’s view in regards to trees in backyards and urban areas’’.
‘‘It may mark a slight change in focus... but the council still feels there is a need to protect trees,’’ Cr Petschler said.
‘‘Within the Kiama municipality, trees are a great asset but there were some inappropriate plantings made in years gone by.
‘‘The council thought there was merit in allowing these trees to be removed and the policy allows people to appeal to councillors as part of the process.’’
Kiama council is reviewing its development control plan regarding tree removal.