The ACT government is refusing to remove a street tree despite its species now deemed to be unsuitable for street planting.
Neighbours say they are concerned for their safety and are adamant the tree is at risk of falling.
The near four-decade old Eucalyptus nicholii is planted on the nature strip in Grigg Place, Richardson, where its root system has extended to damage sewage infrastructure and lift concrete driveways, while limbs have fallen across the road.
The neighbours say they have been left frustrated by the process, which has involved multiple inspections, including by people who were not qualified arborists, and inconsistencies with the ACT government's criteria for tree removal.
Todd Lynch, who lives in the house next door to the tree, wrote to the then Minister for City Services Chris Steel in February, requesting the tree be removed. That month, Icon Water completed sewage remediation work after tree roots permeated pipes on Grigg Place.
"The tree does not contribute significantly to the surrounding landscape. The tree does not represent an outstanding example of its species. The tree is not an exceptional example that reached maturity prior to urban development in Richardson; rather it was planted in Richardson after the suburb was gazetted and built," Mr Lynch wrote in an email provided to the Sunday Canberra Times.
Representatives from Transport Canberra and City Services inspected the tree on February 26, May 7 and May 28.
Hayley Hickey, whose house is directly behind the tree, said the first representative said "the tree won't get removed so there's no point trying" and "I'll trim some of [the tree] back to make it look like [the ACT government] are doing something about it".
Mr Steel then wrote to Mr Lynch to express sympathy for the problems the tree had caused but because it was sound and healthy, it did not need to be removed.
"Removal of the trees is not considered to be an acceptable management option at this stage. I have asked that [Transport Canberra and City Services] arborists continue to monitor the condition of the tree and make recommendations if the condition deteriorates," Mr Steel wrote.
A third inspection was carried out by a government arborist on May 28 after Mr Lynch lodged a "Fix My Street" request online.
Ms Hickey, whose family has owned her house since the 1980s, said a nearby street tree came down in 2017 despite no outward signs of damage.
"If that tree had fallen in the opposite direction that day, it would have fallen on the house behind it. The tree that fell was removed. It was a stroke of luck that no one was injured or property damaged. This is a fear I live with daily and particularly when there is an extreme weather event such as high winds or fire fronts in the surrounding area," she wrote in an email to Mr Steel's office in May.
A spokesman for Transport Canberra and City Services said more frequent tree inspections were planned if residents expressed concern.
"When assessing a tree, arborists consider the health, structure & condition of the tree, impact of pests and/or disease, its contribution to the landscape and urban forest as a whole as well as the tree's interaction with services, infrastructure, traffic and the community," the spokesman said.
"The directorate takes a conservative approach to the removal of trees by weighing up the benefits of the tree against a thorough inspection of all the factors listed above. In general, a healthy tree that does not pose an unacceptable risk to safety or infrastructure will not be removed."
The spokesman said a tree would not be removed from unleased land based solely based on its age and species.
"It should be noted that many eucalypt species can cross pollinate creating hybrid species which may exhibit different characteristics from either parent species," he said.
The Tree Protection Act, which classes the Eucalyptus nicholii as problematic, does not apply to trees on unleased land. Trees are assessed individually before removal decisions are made, the spokesman said.
In August, a large gum tree fell on a Calwell man's house in heavy winds just over a year after the man applied to have the tree removed and was knocked back following a brief government assessment.
Bikram Subedi said he applied to have the tree, which was on private land, removed, but was refused after a government employee completed a visual assessment which took between five and 10 minutes and did not include soil measurements.
An ACT government spokesman at the time said Mr Subedi's trees did not meet removal criteria when they were assessed and "a storm event can present a risk to any species of tree".