Chairmans Report 2015

 

Constantia Property Owners Association – 2015 AGM

Chairman’s Report

 

I took over the Chairmanship in a holding capacity pending someone else emerging during the course of the year – but I seem to have held on for the whole year!

It has been an eventful year. The Executive Committee have given a lot of thought to the somewhat static membership numbers culminating in the appointment of a team tasked to come up with a strategic plan – Peter Stenslunde will give a presentation on this later so I won’t say any more at this stage.

While on the subject of membership, this year we undertook to clean up the existing membership database which was long overdue. This involved the mammoth task of trying to contact over 1000 people by phone or email – we believe that we managed to rectify 80% of our records.

In January we migrated our book keeping onto the Sage Pastel accounting package for improved control and so that we could have a more professional invoicing system. This has been successfully implemented with much improved fee collections although there are still one or two teething problems to resolve.

Our Land Use and Planning sub-committee under the chairmanship of Chris Rousseau has been particularly busy this year having processed over 70 planning and applications. To give you some idea of what is involved:  application notices are received by registered post from the City but usually with limited documentation. We then have to gather more substantial information from the owners or professionals involved and very often a site visit is necessary. The cases are discussed in detail at sub-committee meetings which are held at least once a month. Some more complex applications require input from outside planning or heritage consultants, legal advisers, or other specialists.

Often we disagree with the recommendations made by City planners to Sub-Council – in these instances we request interviews at Sub-Council, SPELUM (Spatial Planning and Land Use Management) or Heritage Western Cape meetings.

All of this takes a tremendous amount of preparation and we are particularly grateful to ExCo member Yvonne Leibman, a Heritage Practitioner and Attorney, who has dedicated an enormous amount of time and effort over many years.

Some of the more high profile Town Planning and Heritage applications we have dealt with this year are:

Glendirk Farm: This is a High Court action challenging the decision taken by Council to approve a re-zoning and sub-division on this historic farm despite their own planners recommending otherwise.

No. 40 Constantia Main Rd: The CPOA and Cllr Liz Brunette gave very compelling arguments why this application, which disregards the City’s own policies and encourages commercial creep, should be refused. The re-zoning application to operate a wellness centre was approved by SPELUM regardless.

The Old Police Station, Constantia Main Rd: Chris presented thorough research to convince Heritage Western Cape that this relic from the past should be saved from demolition, and it was.

Old Dutch Embassy, Southern Cross Drive: The consent application nowhere resembles what is happening in reality and the owners are now applying for a re-zoning to general business. The issue is the operation of a large function venue in a residential area.

Constantia Uitsig: We are working closely with the professional team to ensure that development on this historic farm is done tastefully and within the heritage informants.

Proposed Mount Prospect Retirement Village: We have had 2 information sharing meetings with the developers and professionals but will reserve formal comment until the formal planning application is submitted

On Environmental matters, we are fortunate in having ExCo member Brian Ratcliffe who also serves on the Friends of the Greenbelts committee. Brian has worked tirelessly on De Hel greenbelt to re-habilitate it and promote it as a public amenity. He has also been proactively involved with the City in trying to find suitable alternatives for the Ladies Mile garden refuse drop-off site.

You may be aware that the CPOA holds a notarial servitude over Constantia Village shopping centre to ensure that the conditions that were agreed to at the time of development approval are adhered to. One of the recent tangible results you will have noticed is the wall along Spaanschemat River Rd that was built as one of the measures to dampen the noise from the loading areas. There is an awareness of the need to review some of the conditions imposed some 25 years ago, in line with changing market demands. We recently approved the installation of solar (PV) panels on portions of the main centre roof – after a lot of debate, the overarching principal was that ‘going green’ is the responsible thing to do- Growthpoint will be providing more information on this shortly.

On Roads and Traffic, Peter Stenslunde has established a good working relationship with the Engineer/manager of the District depot responsible for road maintenance in the Constantia area and we now have a say in deciding, for example, re-surfacing priorities. At a higher level, he has been persistent in trying to ensure that Constantia gets an equitable ‘bang for its buck’ when it comes to City budget allocations. This has involved dealings with Mayoral Committee members Brett Herron and Ian Nielson – arising from this was a public meeting addressed by the latter.

As a result of the devastating fires in February, Gordon Chunnett volunteered to engage with the authorities (TMNP and City) to ensure preparedness with fire protection measures in the future. One of the outcomes has been the installation of additional fire hydrants along Rhodes Drive.

The CPOA were part of the project team responsible for facilitating the installation of fibre to the home in Constantia – our guest speaker tonight, Craig Carthy, will no doubt update you on this. However just a note to say that the approach used by Constantia has been adopted by other ratepayers associations and we are grateful to CPOA member Martin Deissner who gave the project huge momentum with his expertise and tenacity.

The Chairman thanked his Executive Committee for their contributions and support during the past year.

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