By Colin MacGillivray
A KILMORE man is fuming after claiming trees planted by Mitchell Shire Council obscured the view of Sydney Street from his driveway, making it unsafe for him to turn onto the busy road.
Council is in the midst of a $4.65 million Sydney Street Rejuvenation Project, with works to upgrade and beautify the streetscape underway since April.
Stage one of the project concentrated on a section of Sydney Street between Clarke and Union streets, replacing damaged kerb and footpath sections, building a pedestrian outstand near Mitchell Street and planting nearly 70 new trees.
Ian Wright, who owns a property at 89 Sydney Street, said he clashed with council on multiple aspects of the project, including the pedestrian outstand, which he said would have blocked half his driveway if constructed as initially planned.
“I had to get a solicitor involved to get [the pedestrian outstand] moved, because I never got notified like I was supposed to,” he said.
“It was only when I saw the marks on the ground that I thought I should look into it. If I’d left it, half my driveway would have been blocked off and it would have been too late then.
“[Council] couldn’t come up with the working plans for me, and I went up to the library to have a look at the plans, but the plans they had there weren’t the working plans. They had already started work at this stage, so why didn’t they have the working plans available to view?”
Mr Wright said he negotiated with council to alter the pedestrian hub, but soon encountered other problems.
“They had plans for a tree on the pedestrian hub and I complained about that. They were going to leave it there, but they eventually saw sense because I said it would block my view coming out of the driveway,” he said.
Mr Wright said he raised similar concerns about two trees planted on the northern side of his driveway, but council refused to remove them.
“They block the view as you come out of the driveway, and we all know what the traffic is like on Sydney Street,” he said.
“[Cars] come out of the car wash pretty quickly at times and if you pulled out at the wrong time, they wouldn’t have much time to stop.”
Mr Wright said he contacted police to clarify road rules as he was concerned he was breaking the law each time he exited his property.
“I am illegally exiting my property if I cross the kerb to get a better view, because there is a turning lane there,” he said.
“I’m breaking the law if I have to get out to see what’s coming, but when you sit back where you’re supposed to be, those two trees are right in the road.”
Mr Wright said he invited council officials to visit his property and try to exit the driveway themselves.
“They would not come down and take up my challenge. They’re saying it’s no safety issue,” he said.
“It absolutely is a safety issue. Everyone expects a safe entry and exit from their property.”
Council acting chief executive Mary Agostino said both council and the State Government were satisfied the remaining trees posed no danger to traffic.
She said council worked with Mr Wright to achieve an outcome that suited both parties.
“Initial plans for a pedestrian outstand created a small blockage of the driveway of the property,” she said.
“After consultation with the property owner, these plans were amended including the removal of a tree to the south, as per the owner’s request.
“The Sydney Street Rejuvenation Project manager visited the site and took pictures of the trees to the north and communicated them to the Department of Transport.
“Both the Department of Transport and council are satisfied the trees do not hinder the property owner’s access or visibility.”