Debate over development begins again

JON HOUZET

Erf 361 application

A 12-year-old proposal to develop erf 361 in Pascoe Crescent is back on the table after the property owners applied to develop the land in terms of the Development Facilitation Act (DFA).

The matter came up in the Ward 10 agenda last week.

The controversial site was the subject of a legal battle after six ratepayers took Ndlambe to court over the proposed development, arguing that due process had not been followed. Municipal land and adjoining Transnet land (erf 642) had not been rezoned before being consolidated, and there were concerns over a sensitive wetland area.

The Grahamstown High Court found the process flawed and ordered an environmental impact assessment begin from scratch.

After using Bokamoso environmental consultants for years, the developers recently appointed a new consultant, Willem Groenewald of Landmark Planning, who submitted an application in terms of the DFA.

Ndlambe town planner Mluleki Matiwane explained that a tribunal in Bhisho hears DFA applications, but it would require the municipality give comment on whether it is in favour of the application or not.

“What is the ward expected to do?” asked councillor Ross Purdon.

“We need to see if the application has community support,” replied Matiwane.

The developers want to build a mixed use residential and commercial area called the Port Alfred Riverside Development.

The municipality proposed supporting the application subject to what Purdon called “hugely stringent conditions”, including: services agreements and financial guarantees for the installation of engineering services; that the relevant administrative decision has been obtained from the department of economic development and environmental affairs in terms of the Environment Conservation Act or National Environmental Management Act; compliance with the National Heritage Resource Act; any conditions imposed by the department of roads, Sanral and Transnet.

Trying times

“Our roads are in a shocking condition after the recent rains”, said Purdon in his opening statements at the ward meeting. “I despair at the state of our roads.”

He also lamented the “trying economic times” in which several local businesses have closed.

On the positive side, Purdon said water quality was much improved, though there have been distribution problems.

Recommendation withdrawn

A proposed recommendation by Ward 10 to rectify the user clause in the lease of the Kowie Swim and Play Centre at the small boat harbour has been withdrawn by Ndlambe’s executive committee until the matter is discussed by management and a report has been submitted.

“Alderman (Louise) Swanepoel said we erred,” said Purdon.

At its meeting in July the ward committee went along with a proposal by member Angus Schlemmer to “rectify” the user clause to allow commercial facilities at the complex.

Arrears

Ward 10 arrears were up to R20,6-million in August.

Liquor licences

The Port Alfred Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses has agreed to a liquor licence being granted to Lifestyle Cafes in Campbell Street on condition that it applies to a family-type restaurant, that it not apply to evening functions, sporting events and suchlike occasions, that trading stops at 10pm, that any noise including music stops at the same time.

The church retained its right to revoke its consent if any of the conditions are revoked.

Concern over doctor’s rooms

Committee member Lynn Nettelton expressed concern over a town planning application by Dr Balofo for the relaxation of building lines, the erection of an additional dwelling unit and consent use to operate a home-based business in Van der Riet Street.

“She hasn’t provided for her own parking,” said Nettelton. “There have already been problems as sometimes up to 20 cars are parked there by patients.”

The town planning department undertook to ensure that Balofo makes provision for parking on her property.

Support for New Year’s plan

Ward 10 supported the draft contingency plan for New Year’s Day.

The next Ward 10 meeting is scheduled for February.

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