Griffith City Council have agreed to skip community consultation and allow a developer to cut down five trees on Banna Avenue to make way for the upgrading of the Gemini Hotel.
The decision was made at Tuesday's council meeting despite misgivings from mayor John Dal Broi, who said council should be prepared to cop a fair share of criticism.
"We will get people who will complain and you're living in dreamland if you don't think that," he told the assembled councillors.
"This has to be solved properly; there has to be some form of consultation otherwise there'll be a fair bit of criticism."
His misgivings were shared by Councillor Dino Zappacosta, who said the community needed to have a say.
"We must remember who actually owns these trees: the community owns these trees," Cr Zappacosta said.
"These trees do belong to the main street, they beautify the main street, they're so colourful in the autumn time and in the summer they're very shady."
Developer and owner of the Gemini Hotel Jim Knox said there simply was no time for a community consultation, given the state of the trees.
"The timeframe is an urgent one," Mr Knox said.
"It's not something I would suggest we've got weeks or months to seek some further input."
The tree roots had caused major damage to underground infrastructure including pipes, Telstra telecommunication lines, and the walkway itself.
The encroaching roots had to be pruned repeatedly by council, resulting in unhealthy trees on the verge of toppling over.
Mr Knox said he'd be happy to remove the trees and replace them with a more suitable, less invasive species and pay for it out of his own pocket.
Clearing the trees would make way for the Gemini's major redevelopment, which will include the addition of a steakhouse and several deluxe rooms.
Councillor Anne Napoli supported the developer, saying that it was ultimately in the best interest of the community.
"Here we have a developer that's spending millions of dollars in our community and wishes to beautify the area," Cr Napoli said.
"I would feel very sad, and I think the community will be very sad and disadvantaged, if we don't allow this developer to go ahead with his development."
Councillor Brian Simpson also supported the move, especially since the trees were on the brink of keeling over anyway.
"This will be a major tourist attraction... really adding to our community," he said.
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