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Who is responsible for tree when both private and council land?

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  1. #1
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    Default Who is responsible for tree when both private and council land?

    We have two huge conifer pines right on our boundary wall/fence line (around 4 stories heigh). They are completely covering our power lines to the house and pushing the brick wall inwards as well as roots causing some serious subsidence of courtyard pavers. Another kicker is that they overshadow our little 1950’s fibro palace so we’re in the dark.
    I contacted council and they sent out a ranger, he stated in his letter trees are more than 50% our land and therefore we bear all financial responsibility as well as now have to apply for tree lopping permit to even prune them.
    I've looked at our survey and I don’t think he’s right. The first tree looks like its about 70-80% on council land to me. The second probably 50/50 although that’s mainly now because the tree is leaning towards the house. It also looks like wall was built around the trees as the fence is a weird design with huge cut outs in the bricks to allow for trees whereas all other properties have straight brick to block out busy traffic noise as we are on a major rd.
    Here is a copy of our survey and a pic of the trees.
    An aborist said we’re looking at around $15k minimum to remove both even if council agreed to cut (which they won’t)
    Given the sheer size and proximity to major road and foot path. I’m worried they will come down on the house one day and our bedrooms are literally 4 meters away
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails a041c615-629d-48b2-add8-b33127b66dd5.jpg   2f031b20-8ff1-4e03-a029-d1bc580fc7c5.jpg   c68d94cf-ef6f-4f27-905c-5e96b55a8e70.jpeg  

  2. #2
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    I doubt you are fully responsible for the removal cost. I would agree the one tree looks to be pretty much outside your boundary and I would push for a 50/50 cost split.
    Getting the permission to cut however will be an uphill battle. I had a halfdead one completely on council land and they refused to allow me to remove it until it finally fell over in a storm. Luckily it did lean toward the road.

    If they are interfering with power lines one way to sidestep it and at least get them pruned may be to report to your local power supplier.

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    Thanks for your response! Yep, I totally agree, knowing what councils are like we have Buckley’s of actually removing them but I’d be very happy with just a good prune to reduce the height and make them a bit more manageable and safer. If they also on council land I’m confused as to why council wouldn’t also be responsible for bearing some of the maintenance costs in pruning? If it were between private properties I’m sure it would. Am I wrong to think this? just feel it’s a bit unfair we have to pay for the whole lot if they are on council land especially tve one that looks like 70-80% is! Unfortunately the survey we have doesn’t mention the trees
    because they are covering the lines from street plows to house I think we will get a bill from Ausgrid unfortunately ��

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    ...chances are the were planted by a previous owner as I doubt the council would plant in such a location......hence one reason why they are looking to side step the issue (not unusual for a council!!!)

    Not sure on the regs in NSW, but, I'd definitely investigate the possibility of using the Ausgrid to at least trim them....and be there when they do the work to encourage to hack a lot more than required. You might find they are obligated to do it and maybe for free...and you could also say when they are on site (or the assessor) feel free to hack way more then required so your not wasting your time with another visit anytime soon. The catch might be similar to VIC, in that this may be the responsibility by the council to trim trees in certain areas to meet the electrical regs. Investigate the regulations to see what the clearance might be. In either case, it likely if the council come out, it will be a contractor. Do they also get close to the power lines in the street? if so, another option to trim back.

    One way to encourage the contractors/Ausgrid to chop more is to have a friendly chat and find out how much they are going to chop out. Make it known in a friendly way, more is better Quite often it may be a simple offer of a "reward" to chop out far more than required of say a couple of slabs of beer. You will be amazed at what this can achieve....at times


    If successful with the trim, get a few quotes as they can vary considerably. Without seeing the full extent of the trees, expect anything from 7k to 15k. An option is to leave the bigger wood that cant be put through the chipper. If you dont have a wood heater, usually a Gumtree add will get rid of it...particularly if its cut up into blocks and may save you some $$. The complication and hence the price quoted is the risk of damage to houses & fences, access and proximity to powerlines, if they need traffic control etc. Its going to be a prick to get the stump out next to the fence and will require a stump grinder to eat it out or you could do something inventive or artistic with the stump at a certain height???? Make sure you poison it.

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    Thanks so much for your detailed response. I agree given the position that at some point they were probably planted by a previous owner, but I wonder given if they are on the boundary and more so on council land if council really have no responsibility when it comes to paying part of the cost?
    to be honest, I wonder why they were ever let to get so big by either past owners or council, I’m in Sydney north side and the council is ridiculous with trees here, they won’t let you cut anything down even if it’s not protected as long as it’s healthy
    it’s a bit hard to tell from our survey, I wonder if paying for a more detailed one might be the way to go that includes the trees and how much is our side snd how much theirs?
    I've taken both of your advice and filed a report with Ausgrid, even if they send us a bill at least it’s done then and not a fight with me snd council! I’ll definitely offer up that beer carrot as well, hopefully they can do something and it’s an easy fix.
    in the mean time, I’m going to take a ton of pic in case the trees happen to fall in a storm and it ends up being a far bigger problem.

  6. #6
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    In Sydney, councils don't care about pines of any description. They are "foreign" trees.
    I had permit given to cut down large pine trees no problem.
    Pay the $100 they scam off you to give you a permit, and find a tree man to cut them down. They will not charge you 15 grands. more like 3 each.
    Try this mob, Snake ...0416316786.
    Timberland Tom ... 0418200250
    Compared to large gumtrees, those pines are a breeze to cut down.
    Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect
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    ....investigate Marc's suggestion. If its only $100 for a permit and 3k to cut....jump on it as I'd be surprised if it was anything less than 7k in their current location.
    At that price, I'd not be bothered with the heartache of negotiations with Ausgrid or the council...which could drag out for a year or 2.

    Let us know what the quote was

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    Thanks for passing on those details, I really appreciate it!
    we had a builder out this morning to look at the wall. He said going by our survey and the tree position tree in his opinion, tree 1 Is 95% council land and the other is about 80% council land. The damage to wall and pavers is in the thousands to repair and then the cost of having to remove the trees on top is a bit of a blow though. We’re on a 6 lane road (3 each direction ) so we need that wall for the sound barrier unfortunately. It’s more the position we’re in proximity wise rather than tree removal difficulty, to cut it we’re going to have to stop traffic to some degree so that’s where the costs going to add up I think.
    He was saying if the tree is council he thinks they legally would have to compensate for the damage to wall and pavers, what are your thoughts on this? I’m no expert but suspect the surveys, engineers reports and legal fees will prob be more than the $$ to just fix it 😫

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    ....unless you can dig up doco on approval for planting the original trees, I think your pushing s%^t up hill, particularly if they force you down the legal route.
    Hopefully someone else here can say otherwise based on their personal experience.

    To give you an example of how they weasel out - brother had a small retaining wall about 1m high that cracked and was leaning over within a couple of years. Prior to that no issues. It turned out it was built over a storm water drain that partially collapsed. Reasonably straight forward I hear you thinking. Well after 18 months of "discussions" on fixing the retaining wall, a new council bloke came out, looked at the wall and said there was no permit for that to be built over the drain, no permit for the wall thats >800mm and therefor we wont fix it. Brother had to shell out $15k to have it fixed (re-built and underpinned)

    Doesnt hurt to give it a crack because you really have nothing to loose but be prepared to look at plan B, C or D

    Without seeing the defects to your wall and pavers, I'd suggest if you can stop the tree from growing and causing further damage over the next few years, then perhaps this is your first priority as the other stuff may be able to sit in that condition for years without being degraded further.

  10. #10
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    Those prices are ridiculous. I've had several huge gums cut down, the branches mulched (taken away) and the stumps grubbed. Most recent one was $450. (Trunk was left in large pieces for a mate to cut up for fire wood) That was 6 years ago but I know the price is still about the same in this town as mum got a medium birch removed last week for $200!

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    How long have you owned the property?

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by r3nov8or View Post
    Those prices are ridiculous. I've had several huge gums cut down, the branches mulched (taken away) and the stumps grubbed. Most recent one was $450. (Trunk was left in large pieces for a mate to cut up for fire wood) That was 6 years ago but I know the price is still about the same in this town as mum got a medium birch removed last week for $200!
    Those are 1990 prices for Sydney
    Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect
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    Quote Originally Posted by r3nov8or View Post
    Those prices are ridiculous. I've had several huge gums cut down, the branches mulched (taken away) and the stumps grubbed. Most recent one was $450. (Trunk was left in large pieces for a mate to cut up for fire wood) That was 6 years ago but I know the price is still about the same in this town as mum got a medium birch removed last week for $200!
    Gee for $450 you would be flat out hiring a cherry picker for that. I had a big poncianna cut down for my daughter and the dump fees were close to $200 I don’t know how much the cherry picker cost but he spread the daily hire over 2 days.

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    Quote Originally Posted by r3nov8or View Post
    I've had several huge gums cut down, the branches mulched (taken away) and the stumps grubbed. Most recent one was $450. (Trunk was left in large pieces for a mate to cut up for fire wood) .... mum got a medium birch removed last week for $200!
    A medium Birch is nothing like these trees Basil needs cutting.
    Give me the number, because at those prices, I may as well get them on site to cut my firewood!!!

    In the suburbs its $$$, its all about liability, paying for teams of people, equipment, traffic control (if its outsourced, they are on massive hourly rates) and large margins. You would be surprised what $ these companies turn over as opposed to some small country town with no traffic and a little 2 to 4 man company (just guessing).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bros View Post
    Gee for $450 you would be flat out hiring a cherry picker for that. I had a big poncianna cut down for my daughter and the dump fees were close to $200 I don’t know how much the cherry picker cost but he spread the daily hire over 2 days.
    The Tongans don't need no cherry picker

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bros View Post
    Gee for $450 you would be flat out hiring a cherry picker for that. I had a big poncianna cut down for my daughter and the dump fees were close to $200 I don’t know how much the cherry picker cost but he spread the daily hire over 2 days.

    Yep, $400 to $500 hire rate per day for something decent to reach and cut one of those (45 to 65 foot boom) without an operator.

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    Quote Originally Posted by r3nov8or View Post
    The Tongans don't need no cherry picker
    Yes, we had a family of Tongans doing tree work here not long ago. The mother went around drumming up business and the 'kids' did the work. Climbing with no harness, dropping trees hoping for the best and ... no insurance. And that was their undoing.
    One day I came back home only to find a massive pile of green chopped up one foot thick logs on my front lawn. It did not take me long fo find the culprit, the happy tongan family cutting down trees nearby. He said he saw my smoking flue and assumed I would welcome some free firewood!
    Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect
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    Quote Originally Posted by joynz View Post
    How long have you owned the property?
    Only since last year, so not long

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    Quote Originally Posted by Marc View Post
    Yes, we had a family of Tongans doing tree work here not long ago. ...
    Yeah, they are definitely around here, but my mention was just a bit of a fun... I used a long term local company with insurance for the $450 job I mentioned. My wife reckons the total was $600 with the stump grubbing. She is probably right but still cheap

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    Here's a left field suggestion which may be cheaper.
    Demolish the existing brick wall where it is already set back because of the trees [ because it is unsafe] and set it back another half a metre or so.
    "A big boy did it and ran away"

    Legal disclaimer denying responsibility to be inserted here.

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    I think you should cut down the 50% of the tree the council believe you are responsible for and see if their 50% survives.��

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    Quote Originally Posted by droog View Post
    I think you should cut down the 50% of the tree the council believe you are responsible for and see if their 50% survives.��
    Ha ha I actually had the same thought. Problem is, whatever happens, they are saying we are 100% responsible for tree so if it dies we are expected to pick up 100% of the bill to remove snd we don’t have $15k in cash to throw about on that if we can avoid it. A truck hit a big tree 5 meters from ours two weeks ago. They had to shut down the road for hours to remove it so suspect it’s not going to be easy removing ours either purely due to the location 😫

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    Yep, my folks live on the coast. Just paid $350 to have a massive big gum tree removed and mulched.
    A bit different to Sydney though where they are, not too many people ever bother with council permission, and no one dobs because they are also all doing similar themselves. Sydney you can’t sneeze without “neighborhood watch” reporting you.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Basilratbrush View Post
    Yep, my folks live on the coast. Just paid $350 to have a massive big gum tree removed and mulched.
    A bit different to Sydney though where they are, not too many people ever bother with council permission, and no one dobs because they are also all doing similar themselves. Sydney you can’t sneeze without “neighborhood watch” reporting you.
    Depends on the suburb, where I am it's notorious for big trees, and a council that is like an extortionist when it comes to wanting to cut any down, there is thousands of trees around our streets.
    It's quite common to hear one being chopped down out of the blue, and nobody says anything because at some stage we all need to get rid of one.

    Below is some of the ones in my backyard, bear in mind, this is a 1000 sqm block within 5 minutes of major shopping centre, it's not in the sticks.
    Below that is a bloody pine that came down two weeks after moving in, it landed on my neighbours house, these pines should never been planted in suburbia blocks.

    I cut some of the logs larger hoping to make some stools from them


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    Mieux vaut prévenir que guérir

  25. #25
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    Default Who is responsible for tree when both private and council land?

    You're lucky You're able to cut it down.

    My neighbour as it close to our boundary and he applied to get it cut down. Council rejected it.

    I plan to poision the trees one day.

    lk

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    Quote Originally Posted by METRIX View Post
    It's quite common to hear one being chopped down out of the blue, and nobody says anything because at some stage we all need to get rid of one.
    At times it is better to ask for forgiveness than ask for permission

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    Yep, when I bought this block, 2 years after the 2009 bushfires, hired a forestry excavator (grabber and saw on a boom) to clean to place up for 3 days. 6 trees just on the other side of the boundary line that looked like they had 5 minutes of life left and could fall into the powerlines given they were on the North side (prevaling North winds here).

    Rang council about removing them, said I need a permit. I said machine coming on site tomorrow @ $1,000 per day, they said it could take a month to issue a permit and to not touch the trees until then. I said, ok, I;II submit the paper work.

    Machine arrived on site, knocked the trees down, removed the stumps and graded over in the first 30 minutes, moved remnants to a burn pile and good wood to a "wood" pile never to be seen again. The mistake I made was leaving one which fell over 2 years later stuffing up the fence, neighbors fence and gate just missing the power lines.

    Took a punt and was following Bros's train of thought!!!

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