UPDATE: Council responds to uproar after trees get chopped
UPDATE: COFFS Harbour City Council have clarified its actions following considerable backlash from the community after two palm trees in Wharf St, Woolgoolga, were cut down yesterday.
Residents criticised the council for not consulting the community prior to the removal, however council have asserted that "all other options were exhausted."
"Feedback from the ongoing Draft Woolgoolga Town Centre Masterplan community consultation led to a move to relocate the Woolgoolga Beach Holiday Park entrance from Beach Street to Wharf Street, to improve the movement of traffic and pedestrians around the holiday park and beach," said a council spokesperson.
"A subsequent Council report into the relocation of the entrance was endorsed in June 2016.
"Moving the access required the removal of six of the existing car parking spaces in Wharf Street. Early discussions with the Northern Beaches Residents Association and local businesses highlighted that their primary concern was maintaining the current number of parking spaces.
"It was agreed that replacement spaces were to be constructed to the west of the existing locations. To achieve this, it was clear that the palms would need to be removed.
"During the design process, Council considered options to relocate the trees nearby or sell them to private nurseries, rather than cut them down.
"Unfortunately, moving the palms would have involved the excavation of a large hole in an area that contains a key sewer main. Subsequent investigations revealed that the excavation work would create a very high risk of damaging the sewer main - which would cause major disruption to local residents and businesses - and would be extremely costly.
"As a result, Council staff were forced to make the decision that the trees would need to be cut down to accommodate the new parking spaces.
"This decision was communicated to all nearby residents and businesses prior to their removal.
"Council would like to emphasise that the decision to remove the palms was taken only after all other options were exhausted."
TUESDAY 3:30PM:LOCALS have been left devastated after long-standing trees in the heart of Woolgoolga were lopped today.
It initially seemed to be some routine pruning, but many residents have been left in shock after the trees were unexpectedly chopped down from the side of Beach St.
A Coffs Harbour City Council spokesperson said they were cut down to maintain the same number of parking spaces in nearby Wharf St.
"Council was hoping to be able to relocate the trees, but there are service pipes close by that meant we couldn't dig a hole big enough to remove the trees and transplant them," the spokesperson said.
"We are building two garden beds either side of the new driveway to offset the loss of the trees. The overall aim is to maintain the same number of parking spaces in Wharf St."
Many residents have taken to social media, and it appears the demise of the trees isn't sitting too well, with some saying Woolgoolga is losing its 'village feel'.
"It is depressing to see the place going from relaxed easy beach lifestyle to rack and ruin," Jody Brownlow wrote.
"We were intending to stay here for the rest of our lives but maybe it's time to move near our family. Woogoolga has lost its village feel," wrote Gail Banks.
The controversy is reminiscent of the uproar which took place in Bellingen months earlier, where locals held a number of rallies after Bellingen Shire Council made the decision to clear Camphor Laurel trees in Bellingen's Church St.