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Wednesday Feb 27, 2013

Durbanville property owners angry over car dealership in residential area

A City of Cape Town planning decision to regularise a second-hand car dealership and plumbing business operating illegally from a home in Durbanville, despite being refused by the local subcouncil, has outraged local residents.

The second-hand car dealership in Bellville.

George Sieraha, chairman of the Durbanville Community Forum slammed the decision as "an absolute shocker" and "absolutely scandalous".

And he suggested that this type of approval would become more common when new planning legislation in the form of the Land Use Planning Act, which has fewer appeal possibilities, came into effect.

A fortnight ago, the city's seven-member planning and general appeals committee headed by DA councillor Jacob Smit revoked a decision by SubCouncil 7 in September last year refusing a temporary land-use departure for the second-hand car and plumbing business on a property zoned single residential in De Villiers Drive, Morning Star.

The appeals committee ruled that most of the building on the property would still be used for residential purposes and that the 25m2 of office space would be an "auxiliary use".

It said sufficient conditions regarding parking and scale had been imposed to mitigate any potential negative impacts, and that the proposed use was not deemed a threat to the built environment, to existing rights, or to the safety, health and well-being of the community" in terms of the existing land use planning ordinance.

Approval conditions include no advertising on site, restoring a double garage for parking instead of its current use as a store, and removing shade cloth netting on De Villiers Drive.

An angry Sieraha said the forum would definitely appeal the city's decision. In terms of the land use planning ordinance, provincial planning MEC Anton Bredell is still the appeal authority.

"The city over the past few months shouts from the hilltops that wrongdoers better beware - any land use infringements will be dealt with," Sieraha said.

"So, here is a situation where an applicant has shown the middle finger to the city and the community for years and by its own admission in its application states that there is an unauthorised car dealership.

"And what does this administration do? It rewards the wrongdoer by authorising its application for offices (and) the illegal businesses continue."

The community had been "simply ignored with utter disdain", he said.

"What the city has done with a stroke of the pen is set a precedent that it's okay to operate illegally, ' but don't worry we will give you rights'.

"This administration has failed dismally to protect the community and should hang its head in absolute shame with this travesty."

"You wonder why residents are bitter?" he asked.

Cape Argus

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