Newsletter March 2009

CONTENTS

OUR STRENGTH LIES IN OUR MEMBERSHIP 

THE PROPOSALS TO BUILD A THREE STOREY PARKING GARAGE AT CONSTANTIA VILLAGE…..what we have told the owners of Constantia Village 

WHAT’S GOING ON IN CONSTANTIA…….. 

THINK 2WICE – A NEW RECYCLING INITIATIVE. 

SOME RESIDENTS CONCERNED ABOUT BABOONS INVADING CONSTANTIA. 

GETTING IN TOUCH……….. 

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OUR STRENGTH LIES IN OUR MEMBERSHIP 
We are often asked what benefits there are from being a member of the Constantia Property Owners’ Association. The best answer, we think, is to tell residents what we do…..

We are a powerful watchdog which guards over our unique environment and the more representative our membership is, the greater our voice and the more persuasive we can be when proposals for inappropriate developments, new City policies that could have a negative impact on our area are contemplated or other threats raise their heads. Our current membership is over 1000 residents but we really do need to increase this in order to make our influence even greater.

Your Executive Committee tries as hard as it can to abide by the Constitution of the CPOA which has as its objective: “To promote and safeguard the interests of the ratepayers and residents of Constantia. Paramount to those interests is the preservation of the beauty, rural character and historic heritage of Constantia”

An example of the strong will of members of the CPOA was shown during the recent attempt by Growthpoint to build a three storied parking garage at Constantia Village. We mobilized our members, held a public meeting and then organised a poll of members. (The article below gives more information on that extensive exercise)

We have also, by raising funds through the Constantia Valley Trust, succeeded in getting the heritage resources in the Valley mapped and described. This comprehensive exercise has gone to the City Council for inclusion in their registry of heritage resources, which gives these treasures in the Valley a greater measure of protection when threatening developments are proposed.

The battle with the Provincial Government will continue over proposals to build low-cost housing on the corner of Spaanschemat River and Firgrove Roads and in Soetvlei Ave. (More information below)

One of the important heritage issues that has taken a great deal of time are proposed alterations to the historic werf at Steenberg Wine Farm. This has been time well spent because so far we have, by involving a consultant and Heritage Western Cape, been able to contain proposals to only an upgrade of Catherina’s restaurant.

Another very involved and lengthy heritage issue has been a determination to preserve the historic furrow, dug by slaves in the 1690’s on Sillery Farm. We have engaged a consultant and with him we have vigorously fought to have this uncovered and preserved. This has taken many, many meetings with Heritage Western Cape, who have agreed that it should be preserved – but the developers have appealed against the decision. So we fight on!

We are currently working with the other residents’ associations in the Valley on a proposal to subdivide a large area of land in Soetvlei Ave which we believe has been designed in an inappropriate and undesirable way which will have a very negative effect on the area.

These are some of the big land developments and heritage issues we have dealt with over the past year. But there is far, far more that we do that benefits Constantia and the unique environment that residents have chosen to live in.

We have a dedicated Land Use and Planning sub-committee that meets every month to discuss and respond to the many applications that go to the City Council for development, departures from the zoning scheme, sub-division or rezoning – and we deal with many illegal lands uses that residents report to us. Consultations and correspondence with officials and deliberations on these issues take time but we are willing to put in the time and effort to preserve the quality of our residential areas for the benefit of our members.

We deal regularly with applications for cell masts in places where they would be unsightly and in our opinion unnecessary as well as threat to the health of nearby residents.

The City of Cape Town is very active in trying to put in place all sorts of policies that would, in their view ensure better land use as well as well as management of Cape Town and we give careful consideration to these, their possible impact on members and other residents of Constantia and submit our comments in line with these considerations. As examples, we have submitted comment on a proposed liquor by-law to regulate hours and days of serving or buying liquor, the proposed integrated zoning scheme, the City’s spatial development framework, catchment and river management, cell mast policy, gated security developments, informal trading, keeping of animals in the City, road tolls in the City, rates policy, renaming of streets, ……and many more.

The CPOA is represented on Ward 62 and Ward 71 Forums, at which local issues are discussed; we have a representative member on the Greater Cape Town Civic Alliance and we attend meetings of the Sand River Catchment Management Forum.

And all this is in addition to helping members with any queries they may have about land use, planning, rates, noises and nuisances and problems with their neighbours (which we try to avoid!). Our Manager, Alan Dolby is available to members ever week-day morning, to help with queries, complaints and other issues that affect residents.

But why wait for a threat to our environment or when a resident has a major problem before becoming a member? This is a question we would like every member to ask of their neighbour, friend or new arrival in Constantia.

We hope that the description of what the CPOA does, for Constantia, given above, will help every member to persuade non-members to join us. Apart from the work the CPOA does, the more members we have, the lower we can keep membership fees.

So we urge existing members to speak to their friends and neighbours and encourage them to become CPOA members. If every member recruits one new member we can double our membership!

Existing and new members can visit our website, www.simonbarnett.co.za/cpoa for details and a membership application form or send and email to cpoa@yebo.co.za or phone 021 7944388.

Membership subscriptions of R165 for a single person or R230 for a household (2 people) are now due. Enclosed with this newsletter is a membership reminder form for your use – if your subs are outstanding – or if not, please give it to a friend and persuade them to join!

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THE PROPOSALS TO BUILD A THREE STOREY PARKING GARAGE AT CONSTANTIA VILLAGE…..what we have told the owners of Constantia Village 

Following the results of the poll of members on this threat to the environment of Constantia and the meeting of the CPOA Executive Committee at which a decision was made, a letter was sent to Growthpoint Properties, the owners of Constantia Village. The meat of this letter reads as follows…..

“……..The following are the results of the ballot of CPOA members as to whether they favoured or opposed the proposed construction of the parking garage at the Constantia Village shopping centre:

No of votes cast: 640
In favour: 16
Opposed: 624
% of votes opposed 97.5
% poll (of 1138 members) 56.2

“The matter was thoroughly debated at the CPOA AGM on Nov 12, 2008. In the opinion of the committee, the strong objections raised at the AGM when confirming the results of the ballot, were based mainly on the view that such a garage would be a clash with the paramount objective of the association – being ‘the preservation of the beauty, rural character and historic heritage of Constantia’. For similar considerations, as we judge it, the meeting was also against the extension of the retail area of the centre.

There did not appear to have been proper parking and traffic flow analysis. The ingress/egress limitations (in respect of Spaanschemat and Main Roads) do not appear to have been addressed.
The parking garage would be an aesthetically unattractive building, inconsistent with the residential character of Constantia.
The proposal clashed with a specific clause in the existing agreed servitude conditions – “The Owners undertook that they will not give cause, in any way whatsoever, to interfere with the peace, tranquility, and any other rights whatsoever of the owners/tenants/occupiers of the residential neighbourhood surrounding the Constantia Business Triangle”.
The owners of residential property to the rear of the proposed parking garage expressed concern that the values of their properties would decrease as a result of the construction of a parking garage.

The views expressed by the CPOA members largely echoed the strong objections voiced at the public meeting held by the CPOA on 29 October, 2008. (A copy of a resume was attached to this letter).

For the above reasons, the Executive Committee of the CPOA rejects the proposals for a parking garage and any extension of retail area.
We also mention that, in the opinion of the committee, the comments at the AGM and elsewhere, indicated that there would be strong objection to any parking garage elsewhere in the area or extension to the retail area.”
The letter was signed by the Chairman of the CPOA, Mr Alec Pienaar

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WHAT’S GOING ON IN CONSTANTIA…….. 

Selling of liquor: The City of Cape Town has released a draft of a by-law that will control the days of the week and hours during which liquor may be sold from different types of outlets. Of interest to residents is that they propose that no bed and breakfast or guest house on properties with a residential zoning may serve liquor at all. (We have supported this). That wine farms will be restricted to six days a week, Sundays excluded (We have asked that they continue to be allowed to trade 7 days a week from 09h00 to 18h00); that restaurants in residential areas not be allowed to serve liquor past 21h00 (We have not commented on this as each case would be different) and that sports clubs would have to stop serving liquor from 22h00. (We have not supported this as these clubs play sports, such as squash, floodlit hockey, rugby, soccer, cricket, bowls, darts, bridge and many others at night and also use their premises for fundraising events at night. We have requested that they be allowed to continue to serve liquor until 24h00)

Garden refuse depot: Members will agree that this has been appallingly managed for the last few years. We have registered our complaints repeatedly and finally it looks as though this has paid off. There are new contractors on the site who have ‘cleaned up’ their act and our ward councillor assures us that the area is to be fenced and tarred to avoid the usual morass of mud in winter. We appreciate this. However, we will continue to ask for a Council official to be responsible for ensuring that the terms of the lease are met. In our view the depot is allowed to deteriorate because there is no accountability. The recent fire was a wake-up call!

Alphen Clinic has gone back to the Council: Privatising the clinic at the Alphen centre, which has served Constantia for so many years, was a failed experiment and the Council has taken over its running again. But, because so many patients were lost during the ‘privatised’ time, numbers have dropped off and it will only be open 2 days a week until the numbers increase. The services now offered are very limited and will only increase if the numbers of people attending increase. The CPOA appeals to members and their staff to patronize the clinic again so that it is not lost forever. Services offered at the moment are: family planning, immunizing and monitoring of babies, TB monitoring and treatment, testing for sexually transmitted diseases and HIV testing. We sincerely hope that if attendances are increased, residents will again be able to have their blood pressure tested and other every-day, minor services restored. (Alphen Clinic Telephone number is 021-794 6870).

Valuation teams visiting houses in Constantia soon: The City’s valuations teams will be visiting houses that have been sold recently. The purpose of this is to ensure that properties are correctly valued and anyone who has been adversely affected by the drop in house prices is not penalized or those that have gained in price are paying their fair share in rates. It is in effect a sales review to establish the facts of a sale transaction. Valuations visits will also be made to properties that have been sub-divided, consolidated or where buildings have had extensions and alterations done. As in the case of a general valuation, appeal processes will apply. The City has appealed to property owners not to allow anyone on your property who claims to be a data collector or valuer but cannot identify themselves to your satisfaction. If you are in any doubt, contact the City’s call centre at 0860 103 089. If you are not at home, a call-back card will be dropped into your letterbox with a telephone number which will enable you to arrange a suitable time for an inspection.

Protection for the integrity of wine farms: The City may declare parts of the Constantia Valley, the Helderberg and Durbanville winelands ‘high potential and unique agricultural land worthy of statutory protection’ This recommendation was part of a report to the planning and environment portfolio committee of the Council that said that these areas are of high value to the City. The report also said that many valuable agricultural areas are under threat from insensitive development as developers often target attractive agricultural areas such as vineyards for development and that the City wanted to steer development away from farmland. The Constantia Valley is included in this recommendation on the basis that that it has been singled out for development by the provincial Government with proposals for development on the Porter Estate, Firgrove and Soetvlei school sites.

Water quality queried: We have had numerous complaints about the smell and murkiness of tap water in Constantia. On checking with the city, they maintain that Cape Town water is tops! They say that we drink the cleanest tap water in the country, thanks to our water coming from unpolluted sandstone catchments which are then treated. The City makes 166 220 tests a year on the water in the final bulk supply and distribution system. However there was an algae problem that they dealt with emanating from Theewaterskloof Dam which gave off a musty odour and taste. This was due to very hot weather and has since cleared.

Rehabilitation of Constantia Main Road: Resurfacing of this road will disrupt traffic until May and the work being carried out will be from Augusta’s Way to the Nek. Existing tar is being replaced with a new layer which will cover the entire width of the road and new drainage channels are being put on both sides for better drainage. Signs have been put up to re-route traffic via Southern Cross Drive but to the dismay of people living in Pinehurst, this has become a rat-run for both cars and heavy trucks. The congestion along Parish Road, from the traffic lights at Christ Church is awful and we have asked the Council to re-time the lights so that traffic from Parish Road has longer to get through. We are also sorry that the council did not put in passing lanes for cars to get by the heavy trucks that lumber up the hill.

R12million sewer pump station for Constantia: To ease the load of existing pump stations and stop winter flooding on the Alphen Greenbelt, a new pump station is being built off Alphen Drive. A 300mm pipeline will run from the new pump station in the vicinity of Kendal Road. We have been promised that any disturbance of the greenbelt will be replanted and re-instated.

Potholes a real pain: Roads in Constantia have deteriorated to an unacceptable level. We receive complaints on a daily basis which are reported to the Council. In all fairness they are fixed, but to such a low standard that they re-appear within weeks. If you have any that you would like to have attended to, please phone Alan Dolby at the CPOA, on 021 7944388.

Sorry state of our scenic routes: Your CPOA representative on the Ward 62 committee has submitted a serious complaint about the lack of attention the Council is giving the scenic routes through Constantia – particularly Spaanschemat River Road. It is high tourist season and because Constantia main Road is unusable for tour busses and Chapmans Peak is closed, Spaanschemat River Road is a heavily used route. One wonders what tourists think when they see edges of the road crumbling away; tar that was lifted when the traffic lights at the intersection with Ladies Mile lying in piles on the pavement with the holes in the road just getting bigger and bigger; bollards that have been knocked over at the turn off into Alphen Drive still lying on their sides after being uprooted by a speeding car; piles of rubble left next to the cricket club’s fence; healthy, long-lived trees being taken out simply because one blew over in a high wind storm in the Barbarossa area….and so on and so on. The Council has a policy about keeping scenic routes looking good but those in Constantia just aren’t getting any attention in spite of our requests to the Council.

Low cost housing –Firgrove and Soetvlei school sites

Since we, together with the other residents’ associations in the Valley, persuaded the consultants to the Provincial Government to extend the time for comment on the proposal for low cost, high density housing on these two sites to mid-December, we have heard nothing further. There was a most uninformed article in the Sunday Times a few weeks ago which produced a flurry of concern. Dr Stephen Townsend, the planning consultant to the CPOA, Constantia Hills Residents’ Association and the Tokai Residents’ Association has written to Environmental Partners, who are conducting an Environmental Impact Assessment, reminding them that it is more than two months since there was a response to the proposals and asking for a progress report.

Our main concerns at this stage of the process are that no alternatives have been examined, as is required by law; that several studies should be carried out before any draft report is issued and that we should be given an opportunity to make input into such studies; that the outline of one of these studies – the Heritage Impact Assessment – which the consultants claim to have carried out is totally inadequate and that parts of the public participation process were not carried out properly.

We suspect that all activity on this proposal will be suspended until after the national and provincial elections.

If, or when we need to appoint experts in their fields to assist us in dealing with these inappropriate proposals, we will be asking members to contribute to paying their fees. Constantia Hills and Tokai residents associations have raised over R35 000 but the contribution from Constantia is only just over R1000! All the funds being raised are kept in the Constantia Valley Trust and are fully accounted for. If you feel you would like to contribute towards this, please contact the CPOA at cpoa.yebo.co.za or phone 021 7944388. The more funds there are, the more we can put into this issue

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THINK 2WICE – A NEW RECYCLING INITIATIVE. 

‘Think 2wice’ is a new plan by the Council to minimize and recycle waste, is currently being tested in Hout Bay, Llandudno and Hangberg. It is the city’s intention to roll this plan out across the City once they have assessed its success or ironed out any wrinkles. It is a free, door-to-door service aimed at reducing waste that goes into our overflowing landfill sites.

It is hoped that this initiative will change the public’s attitude towards waste by asking people to think twice before putting something into their wheelie bin that could be recycled.
As part of the plan, residents will be issued with ‘starter packs’ consisting of information leaflets on what waste should be recycled, what needs to be done and a supply of transparent bags into which recyclables can be put. Bagged recyclables will be collected by the Council separately by special vehicles which will be followed by a compactor truck and then taken to a materials recovery facility for reprocessing.

We would welcome this initiative coming to Constantia soon.

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SOME RESIDENTS CONCERNED ABOUT BABOONS INVADING CONSTANTIA. 

Did you know that the baboons that one sees around the South Peninsula area are a protected species? There are approximately 380 baboons split into 14 troops – one of which has chosen parts of Constantia as their foraging area. The animals are part of what is called ‘The Tokai Troop’ and are frequently seen along Orpen, Spaanschemat River, Firgrove and Willow Roads. Some are also seen in the high areas of Price Drive.

Although they are protected they are now on the ‘threatened’ list, because conflict between baboons and humans is rife which leads to deaths and horrible injuries.

While there are reasons why humans panic at the sight of baboons in residential areas, they should perhaps think about why they are there.

Troops were, in the past, free to roam and forage across huge areas but their habitat has been severely constrained by human development and they now find themselves contained in within a semi-urban island which has reduced their food sources.

So, before you put your dogs on to ‘invading’ baboons, or attempt to harm them in any way, telephone 021-782 2015 for assistance. For further information or to find out how you can prevent house invasions and overturned rubbish bins phone the Baboon Research Unit on (021) 650 3645.

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GETTING IN TOUCH……….. 

CPOA Tel/Fax: 021-7944388: Manager: Alan Dolby
Email: cpoa@yebo.co.za Web site: www.simonbarnett.co.za/cpoa

Ward Councillors: Neil Ross Alphen Centre 021-794 2493 or 083-628 4144
Leon van Rensburg 021-782 6012 or 082-872 6340
Protea Sub-council 021-794 2493
South Peninsula Sub-council 021-784 2011

All emergencies 107 or 021-424 7715 from a mobile
Ambulance 10177
Alphen Clinic 021-794 5906
Building Inspector 021-712 4604
Burst pipes 086-010 3089
Crime watch control centre 086 000 2669
Dumping 086-010 3089
Garbage collection 021-704 1005
Hawking problems 021-703 3075
Fire Brigade 021-794 1128
Health Inspector 021-710 8078
Ladies Mile Refuse Depot 021-400 5239
Land Use Inspector 021-710 8276
Meter readings/consumption queries 086-021 5015
Metro Police Control Room 021-596 1400
Noise complaints 021-596 1999 or 021-788 9350
Parks and Forests 021-791 8300
Powers failures 080-022 0440
Pre-paid meter problems 086 022 0441
Street lights 086-022 0440
Roads & Drainage 021-713 9500
Sewerage blockages, water leaks & supply failure 086-010 3054

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