Newsletter October 2011

CONTENTS

CPOA Subscriptions 

Objections to property valuations 

The trouble with taxis in Constantia 

Taking Action following the CPOA Survey Results 

Objection to Densification in Constantia 

CPOA meets with Council Planners 

Closure of Ladies Mile Road Refuse Depot 

Recycling facilities at Constantia Village 

Confusion about the Contantiaberg CID 

Fighting crime in Constantia 

New By-Law to address Problem Buildings 

Facing the Baboon Problem 

Developers to fight objectors 

Results of the CPOA Residents’ Survey 

GETTING IN TOUCH 

 

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CPOA Subscriptions 
Please Note: Your 2010/2011 association subscriptions are now due, which are R180 per single member or R260 for a household. As we did not increase our subscriptions last year, this means an increase of only 5% over two years.

A subs Renewal Form is enclosed herewith for submission of your payment.

Please pay your subscriptions promptly! It is imperative that we keep our membership numbers strong – both for financial reasons and to maintain our image of being a unified voice of Constantia! Unfortunately, some 50 members did not pay their 2009/2010 subscriptions, which was probably through oversight rather than intent. So far it has not been our practice to directly approach members who are in arrears; however, it has now become necessary to follow up with a phone call so as to give you a gentle reminder.

Renewal notices were sent to those members with email facilities earlier this month. About 40% of email members have since paid their subs. This is good but not great! To those who have paid promptly, many thanks. To those who are still to respond, your payment and continued membership would be greatly valued.

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Objections to property valuations 

The City of Cape Town has to date dealt with some 17 000 out of the approximately 37 000 objections received during the 2009 general valuation process and expects to have completed most of them by the end of December 2010.

The city advises that the review of valuations does not require a visit to all properties as aerial photography software can be used to confirm the dimensions of a property and other features that affect the value. If the objection is confirmed through this methodology it can be addressed quickly and without the need for a visit. Unfortunately, not all objections can be addressed simply and the more complex ones require personal visits by valuers. The valuer will call and make an appointment to visit the property owner to discuss the objection. All objectors will receive a letter confirming the outcome of the review.

The council plans to provide all objectors with a written update early in October, confirming the progress being made with dealing with objections. Property owners will receive individual letters if their objections have not been resolved by that date. Objections are being dealt with by geographical area, not according to when they were lodged as this allows for a more efficient process.

Where an objection is not upheld the owner can appeal to the Valuation Board. The members of the Board are appointed by the Provincial Government and are independent of the city. The Boards are expected to start sitting in October and the letters sent to owners advising of the outcome of their objection will confirm the process to be followed to appeal the value.

If you are waiting for your objection to be resolved, you should not stop making rates payments. The Valuation Roll determines the amount of rates that must be billed, but when an objection to a valuation is received, the rates account will be flagged by the council to indicate that an objection is in progress, which will temporarily stop any debt management actions. However, the property owner needs to make monthly payments based upon the value assessed by the owner and recorded in the objection. The property owner must apply at any of the City’s Walk-in-Centres to make these alternative payment arrangements. Interest will still be raised on the outstanding debt until the objection has been resolved, but will be written off if the objection is upheld. Similarly, where overpayments are made, interest will be paid to the owner when the value is finalised.

For more information contact the City’s Call Centre on 086 010 3089.

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The trouble with taxis in Constantia 

There have been very disturbing fracas between two rival taxis groups in Constantia. The Retreat and Wynberg taxis have fought each other over the Spaanschemat/Orpen Road route. This burst into open warfare early in June with shots being fired, passengers being hauled out of rival taxis and police intervention needed to quell the disturbances on Spaanschemat River Road near the circle at the top of Tokai Rd. Meetings have since been held between the rivals and the City officials and all is quiet at the moment – and we hope it stays that way because it is the taxi passengers who bear the brunt of these disturbances.

Another major cause for concern, which has been taken up time and time again by the CPOA with the Ward Councillors, is the illegal stacking of taxis at the corner of Klein Constantia Rd and Spaanschemat River Road; on Southern Cross Drive at the corner of Parish Road; on the pavement at the garden refuse depot on Ladies Mile; outside the Baptist Church on Ladies Mile and the double parking on Constantia Main Road opposite Constantia Village. Councillor Ross, Councillor for Ward 62, has said that more people have been employed to monitor taxis and they will see to it that this illegal stacking stops.

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Taking Action following the CPOA Survey Results 

The final results of our recent residents’ survey were given very good coverage in the three local newspapers; and all our members with e-mail addresses have since received a detailed summary of that survey. (See copy at the end of this News Letter for members who have not yet read the survey).

Based on the response of our members and their views and opinions, it was most encouraging to the elected representatives of the CPOA to be given a renewed mandate to continue to act in their interests as well as in the greater interests of the Constantia Valley. This mandate will in future guide, firstly, our strategic planning and, secondly, the manner in which we react to matters received from the authorities for comment, such as land use applications.

As a first step, we have submitted the full details of the survey to the Council’s Executive Director of Integrated Development Planning with the request that this data should be used as a basis for the Council’s strategic and budgetary planning in respect of our area. In addition, the full results have been sent to the Executive Director of Strategy & Planning as well as to the Southern District planning officials.

We have also fed our survey results into the public participation process for the Council’s Spatial Development Plan and the Southern District Structure Plan. We will be participating in our local area structure plan in due course and the survey results will also be of value in this process.

In addition, we have forwarded the survey to those Council officials and politicians who are responsible for the municipal services of some of the specific areas of dissatisfaction, which were revealed in our survey. For example, we have pointed out that 98% of respondents are unhappy with the standard of road maintenance in Constantia.

We strongly believe that the survey has not only been for our association’s internal benefit, but, more importantly, has been able to give substance to our representations to the Council’s planning and budgetary processes.

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Objection to Densification in Constantia 

The above mentioned survey also revealed, inter alia, that the major concerns in regard to the future of the Constantia Valley and its character, was undue densification, inappropriate development and excessive subdivision. Other aspects high on the list were ‘anything that will destroy the rural/unique character’ such as increase in commercial zoning, threats to and neglect of historical buildings, heritage sites and greenbelts, sub-division of wine farms, felling of beautiful trees/forests, cluster housing, high-rise buildings and loss of privacy.

There was a clear message that the CPOA should be vigilant in regard to the increasing pressure by developers and town planning authorities to promote densification as well as commercial expansion into areas that are world-renowned for their natural beauty and historical significance.

The CPOA believes that a special case has been made for retaining the existing Erf sizes in the Constantia Valley. It is heartening to see that these Erf sizes have been entrenched as a local areas overlay in the proposed CT Zoning Scheme.

The principles of and the need for the Council’s densification policy are appreciated but we believe that areas of historic and tourist significance need to be treated differently.

The impact of group housing schemes in Constantia is also seen as being an erosion of the integrity of the rural nature of Constantia. There is some sympathy for retirement complexes comprising comparatively small dwelling units, but large houses on small plots are not generally in keeping with the development norms of Constantia. Our association has submitted comment on both the City Council’s draft Southern District Plan and its draft Densification Policy. A case has been made against inappropriate densification and approval of sub divisions, which are contrary to existing regulations for the Constantia Valley. Moreover, the tendency of the authorities to make undeveloped land parcels in public ownership available for residential infill was strongly opposed.

It is our belief that the Council’s approach to second dwellings that would permit such structures to be the same size as the primary dwelling is ill conceived and would amount to sub division by stealth. Our association has opposed this concept in our comment on the draft CT Zoning Scheme.

Our association is also greatly concerned about the continual attempts to carve up historic farm land in the Constantia Valley for inappropriate residential and commercial usage and we will continue to resist such development proposals.

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CPOA meets with Council Planners 

A meeting was recently held between members of our association’s land use committee and the Council’s senior planning officials. The purpose of this meeting was to initiate an exchange of views on issues of concern in regard to land use applications and planning policies, with particular reference to the impact thereof on the environment of the Constantia Valley.

Another aim of the meeting was to gain a clear understanding of the City’s planning objectives and its legal and policy interpretations for making recommendations on land use applications; as well as providing the planners with an insight into the strategic principles and policies of the CPOA – designed to protect the rural atmosphere, the natural beauty and the historic heritage of the Constantia Valley.

While it was accepted that the council’s planners and the CPOA may not always agree on planning principles or the desirability of certain developments or land use/planning applications, it was important that a good working relationship exists, which facilitates effective communication.

The council planners have agreed to hold further meetings with our association, whenever the need arises.

Some of the issues discussed were:

CPOA’s preference of the granting of a consent use for guest houses rather than a temporary departure or a rezoning to general residential, as the latter was seen as the thin end of the wedge to obtain future rezoning;

Objections to the use of entire dwellings in single residential areas for commercial purposes with or without the owner living on the premises;

Densification of Constantia (see further article above);

Difficulty to assess applications for cellular base stations and masts in residential areas without information about their anticipated level of emissions being provided; the reluctance of applicants to share existing installation; the urgent need for the mapping of existing installations, as well as stricter Council policies;

Concern about the increasing proposals for residential rezoning of historic farms in Constantia; and although the planners are generally supportive of the protection of historic farms, there have been several recent cases where approval has been achieved by developers;

Land use applications, which include (sometimes minor) departures to Council policies, being referred to the Council’s Spatial Planning, Environment & Land Use Management Committee (SPELUM). This process not only removes the right of the Sub-Council to consider the application, but often ignores the local community’s wishes;

Lack of detail in land use applications, making it sometimes impossible to determine the implications, comment on it or formulate objections;

Difficulty to object to any departures to building regulations after owners, architects or builders have already completed the building work concerned. It was suggested that some sort of penalty or sanction should be imposed upon parties that ignore the approved plans.

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Closure of Ladies Mile Road Refuse Depot 

All but one of the land claims have recently been concluded by the City Council in respect of open land bounded by Kendal Road, Spaanschemat River Road and Ladies Mile Road. The land claim on which the Ladies Mile Road Refuse Depot is located has been refused by the Council but is being disputed by the claimant.

This means that that the retention of the refuse depot could still be in jeopardy. Possible closure would be a great inconvenience to Constantia residents – and at the same time substantially increase the dumping of garden refuse, particularly by some uncaring garden service contractors. Even if the depot site land claim is not successful, it is questionable whether the future development of the adjacent land would be able to co-exist with a refuse depot.

We have been informed by our ward councilor, Alderman Neil Ross, that he has called for an urgent report from the Council departments concerned to identify suitable land as an alternative site.

The CPOA will be closely monitoring the progress of this matter.

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Recycling facilities at Constantia Village 

The Friends of Constantia Valley Greenbelts, with the cooperation of Constantia Village Shopping Centre, are pleased to advise that their recycling project of paper and glass is now back on track after a brief glitch. A new contractor has been appointed to service the four glass and four paper igloos, which are located (as before) in the car park behind Exclusive Books.

Two additional igloos for glass items are now provided at the Old Village, near the Spar. However, please note that there are no longer any facilities for paper disposal at the Old Village – this can only be done at the main collection point behind Exclusive Books.

Also, a more advantageous price for this recycling income has been negotiated, which will greatly benefit the upgrading and upkeep of our precious green belts. As a result of the continuing downsizing of municipal parks services, your support for this recycling project is therefore vital. Please spread the word!

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Confusion about the Contantiaberg CID 

The unfortunate name of “Constantiaberg CID” (an application process for the establishment of a Special Rating Area) has led to some considerable confusion. Please note that the area concerned does not include the Constantia Valley west of the M3 – only a very small portion of Constantia, namely properties in the Walloon, Doordrift and Herzlia area. The CPOA has assisted a group of affected residents in opposing their inclusion in the proposed SRA.

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Fighting crime in Constantia 

The Constantia Watch is involved in a number of initiatives aimed at reducing the level of crime in the area. Probably the most important is their participation in strategic anti-crime planning, involving daily liaison with SAPS, the Mountain Men and ADT.

Keeping track of crime incidents, attending crime scenes and co-ordinating investigative activities of all parties are crucial additional roles performed by the Constantia Watch. This includes following the progress of court cases and monitoring the performance of SAPS, the Mountain Men and ADT to ensure they adhere to predetermined standards and systems.

Other important initiatives are as follows:

Analysis of crime intelligence

Collation and interpretation of crime statistics

Communication with registered residents via email

Liaison with all zone committees on a monthly basis

Liaison with other role players, such as Friends of the Greenbelt and the Protea Sub Council

Monitoring of homeless people and vagrants

Providing a dedicated 24/7 phone line for residents to report any suspicious behaviour.

The surveillance cameras and control room supplied by Verifier have also gone a long way to reducing the level of crime in Constantia. As a specialist off-site monitoring service, Verifier does not compete with installers, preferring to leave the installation of CCTV cameras, sensors and other on-site equipment to those with the required expertise. However, the company is happy to help residents obtain quotes for surveillance equipment at their homes or business properties.

Verifier’s monitoring of business surveillance systems has the added spin off of additional community policing, through their direct links to crime prevention and response units in all areas. This has prevented a number of crimes, ranging from housebreaking and robbery to drug dealing.

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New By-Law to address Problem Buildings 

Buildings, including dwellings, that are neglected by the owners to the extent that such buildings become derelict, harbour illegal tenants, present a safety and crime risk or generally affect negatively surrounding areas, will in future be dealt with by the Council in terms of a new by-law that has come into effect.

From now on, owners of “problem buildings” will be made responsible for keeping their buildings in good condition and conforming to regulations, such as health and safety, or face a fine or prosecution. A problem Building Unit has been established; officials have been appointed and are receiving training. A magistrate will be signing off on the by-laws schedule of penalties.

Unfortunately, there are some buildings in Constantia that require urgent attention of the Council in term of this new by-law.

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Facing the Baboon Problem 

The invasion of baboons into the Constantia valley and the damages caused by them – particularly on the wine farms and houses close to the Table Mountain slopes – has prompted us to provide you with a checklist of how not to attract the baboons onto your property:

Make your refuse bin safe by using a baboon proof latch with a lock, or place your bin where they cannot get to it, e.g. garage or storeroom. Make sure the animals cannot get to the bin on refuse collection day either;

Compost heaps with food waste should not be accessible, rather enclose the compost in a baboon proofs container, or use an indoor worm farm for food scraps;

Do not leave pet food outside during the day, rather feed your pets inside after sundown;

Enclose your vegetable garden/orchard and install electric fencing, support baboon monitors, or – as a last resort – remove the fruit trees;

Keep food, especially fruit, out of sight from the window – either close the curtains or use one-way window foil;

Fit burglar guards with a mesh small enough to keep baboon out – use approx. 80 mm wide mesh and keep unguarded window closed;

Explore the option of a neighbourhood watch system, which monitors the movements of baboons and also encourages residents to comply with basic preventative practices.

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Developers to fight objectors 

The Cape Business News reports that new legislation will allow developers to act against objectors who cause them financial loss by holding up their schemes, sometimes for a number of years. Where it can be shown that the objectors have used groundless or specious arguments to make their cases, developers will be able to use this legislation to claim damages against such objectors.

The CPOA frequently submits comments and objections to proposed development schemes but is careful to ensure that its submissions are valid, legitimate, balanced, reasonable and consistent.

Property owners, who wish to submit objections to proposed developments as affected neighbours, may wish to discuss their submissions with the CPOA, if they are unsure as to the legitimacy of their objections.

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Results of the CPOA Residents’ Survey 

The Constantia Property Owners’ Association (CPOA) is commemorating its 60th anniversary this year. To mark this occasion, the CPOA Executive Committee decided to undertake a survey of residents’ in order to establish whether our mandate to serve and protect the Constantia Valley in its present form is still relevant and meets the needs of the local residents in our rapidly changing and challenging world.

The CPOA would like to thank all residents who took the time to fill in the survey form which was sent out recently. The response was overwhelming with 44.4 % of CPOA’s members returning the completed form to our offices. At the same time, visits to our internet web site, www.simonbarnett.co.za/cpoa, increased from around 300 per month to over 3000.

The results of the survey were most revealing and rewarding as they largely confirmed that the CPOA’s aims and objectives are in keeping with the needs and views of its residents.

To the question of what attracted Constantia residents to the area, the majority mentioned the rural character (50%), open spaces (30.6%), beauty (27.0%), tranquility (25.2%), green surroundings (22.8%), large erven (17.1%), mountain views and/or access (14.7%), trees (`12.3%) wine farms (9.9%), and, heritage sites (8.1%).

Other appealing aspects of the Constantia Valley that were mentioned included the recreational opportunities, like-minded neighbours, privacy, ‘great environment to raise a family’, good shopping facilities, well-maintained properties, up-market environment and good property investment.

To the survey’s question of what were the major concerns in regards to the future of the Constantia Valley and its character, 53% of the respondents mentioned densification, inappropriate development and excessive subdivision. Other aspects high on the list were ‘anything that will destroy the rural/unique character’ such as increase in commercial zoning, threats to and neglect of historical buildings, heritage sites and greenbelts, sub-division of wine farms, felling of beautiful trees/forests, cluster housing, high-rise buildings and loss of privacy.

There was a clear message that the CPOA should be vigilant in regard to the increasing pressure by developers and town planners to promote densification as well as commercial expansion into areas that are world-renowned for their natural beauty and historical significance.

When asked to comment on the available services and facilities in Constantia, 59.5% of the respondents placed the lack of road maintenance at the top of their list. Other serious concerns included the over-stressed, very old water and sewage systems which break down regularly, lack of recycling facilities and garden refuse collection, excessive rates compared to level of service delivery, increase in vagrancy, traffic and taxi control and the need to reduce the level of crime.

The survey also revealed that 72% of the respondents have been living in Constantia for more than 10 years and 54% of them longer than 20 years – a sure indication of a healthy and desirable environment that is worthwhile preserving in its present form. It is encouraging that 98% of CPOA members rated the performance of this association as being ‘very good’ or ‘good’.

For the executive members of CPOA, the outcome of this survey represents the confirmation of past efforts, and at the same time serves as a powerful incentive to continue with renewed strength along a similar path to ensure the preservation and protection of our beautiful valley. To this end the executive intends to convey the full results of the survey to the relevant service departments of the Council as well as the appropriate planning and heritage authorities.

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GETTING IN TOUCH……….. 

CPOA
Ward Councillors: Neil Ross
: Denis Joseph
Protea Sub-council
South Peninsula Sub-council
Municipal Offices, Plumstead
All emergencies
All Municipal Service Complaints
Ambulance
Alphen Clinic
Baboons
Bees
Building Inspector
Burst pipes
Crime Watch control centre
Dumping
Garbage collection
Hawking problems
Fire Brigade
Health Inspector
Ladies Mile Refuse Depot
Land Use Inspector
Meter readings/ queries
Metro Police Control Room
Noise complaints
Parks and Forests
Power failures
Pre–paid meter problems
Street lights
Roads & Drainage
Sewerage blockages, leaks & failure
021-7944388 Tel/Fax
021-7942493 or 083-6284144
084-7039266
021-7942493
021-7842011
021-7108000
107 or 021-4247715 (mobile)
086 0103089
10 177
021-794 5906
021-7822015
021-7130433.082-6759249
021-7124604
086-0103054
086 0002669
086-0103089
021-7041005
021-7033075
021-7941128
021-7108078
021-4005239
021-7108276
086 0103089
021-5961400
021-5961999 . 021-7889350
021-7918300
080-0220440
080-0220440
080-0220440
021-7139500
086-0103054

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