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Wednesday Jul 03, 2013

Arniston property deal at centre of legal fight

A beachfront property in Arniston is at the centre of a legal fight after it was donated to a fishermen's union.

The Cape Agulhas Municipality adopted a resolution in March 2011, donating it to the Waenhuiskrans Fishermen's Union.

It also later adopted a resolution allowing for the construction of a community heritage centre on a portion of land next to the erf.

But a local businessman is driving a court action against this, saying the municipality was not entitled to "simply give away this land for free".

He further contends that the wrong piece of land - effectively the local harbour - was cited in the resolution.

Robert Haarburger - with the Arniston Hotel, Arniston Seaside Cottages (he is managing director of both) and a trust - approached the Western Cape High Court last week in an application for an interim interdict to prevent the municipality from formally transferring ownership to the union and to prohibit construction on the land, among other things.

This is pending the outcome of a review of the municipality's decision to donate the property, which has yet to be instituted.

The matter came before the court briefly yesterday but was postponed to July 16.

The municipality - one of four respondents which include the union - has yet to respond to the allegations.

In Haarburger's affidavit, which is before the court, he raised several issues, among them that the land was now registered for public use and that the municipality's decision would result in the land being taken away.

He claimed that there did not appear to be any limitations placed on the property and that the new owners could "simply dispose of it".

"I did not believe this to be in the interests of the municipality of which I am a ratepayer and it was clear to me that the (municipality) could not have applied its mind to the matter."

Haarburger further takes issue with the fact that the "valuable piece of coastal property" had been given without compensation.

While the municipality has valued the property at R520 000, Haarburger commissioned a separate valuation which was R1.5 million.

He believed alternative uses for the land had not been adequately explored, that there was other land the heritage centre could be built on and that it would be "unwise" and "unnecessary" to "compromise the longer term planning of the town's beachfront.

"In the absence of a proper forward planning vision for the beachfront, it is not known whether this portion of land should be put to a better or more appropriate use," he said.

Haarburger also alleges that proper processes were not followed. In written correspondence, which is attached to the papers, the municipality said it had carefully reviewed the whole process and that all applicable legislative prescriptions had been complied with.

Cape Times


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