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Monday Oct 13, 2014

Illegal home businesses detrimental to neighbours

In these tough economic times a growing number of people are opening businesses from their homes to earn an income. But this is often to the detriment of their neighbours whose once peaceful neighbourhood is no longer a sanctuary.

This week City Watch highlights two relevant cases. The first is a shoe factory operating from 7 Howrah Road, Merewent.

The irate residents, who declined to be named for fear of reprisals, allege the factory operates from early morning until late at night. They allege, too, that more than 1 000 pairs of shoes are manufactured daily from the property, which they say is zoned residential.

'This plant is hidden between the main building and an outbuilding on the property. Access is through high electric gates. This factory is operating in the heart of the suburb, surrounded by houses. The factory is a carport that has been converted into a fully mechanised shoe factory plant. Huge machines and furnaces are used to make the shoes and other leather related products,' the residents told City Watch.

'The factory is illegal as the property is zoned residential. This factory is operational seven days a week including public holidays operating from early in the morning until late at night. The factory should move to a commercial zone and pay commercial rates like other businesses. It is also not safe as there are no safety standards. It is just about production and profit. We plead with you to investigate this matter and have the factory closed down,' a resident said.

Colin Pillay, who owns the property, admitted the factory was operating illegally but said his was one of many businesses in the area doing so. 'I spoke to all the neighbours that surround the property before I opened the factory and they were not opposed to it. It doesn't make a lot of noise like other businesses operating from residences, like panel beaters. There are people operating trucking businesses in the area that cause a lot more noise than I make. Why is only my business being attacked? If I am forced to close, the other businesses must also close,' he said.

Pillay said he was employing eight people. 'I am a small business owner. Why are people coming down so hard on me and not the other businesses?'

Merebank Residents Association spokeswoman, Arisha Govender, said she was not aware of this factory but if it was reported to them they would take action. She said while a number of businesses were operating from homes, they had applied to have the zoning changed. 'Also these businesses are not noisy. A factory in the middle of a suburb is an unusual and isolated incident in Merebank.'

Ward councillor Aubrey Snyman agreed other businesses operated from residential premises.

'While some neighbours are able to live in harmony with those operating businesses, in some cases it becomes a health hazard and they cannot. The first port of call should be the ward councillor who will take the matter up. Alternatively, residents can contact the building inspectorate directly to get action.'

In the second case, Chris Adams complained about a 24-hour spares shop operating from a house at 319 Randles Road, Sydenham.

'We have contacted council who confirmed the property is zoned special residential. We are still awaiting further response. They said someone would visit the site and investigate,' Adams said.

'This is not good for our area as businesses are doing as they please. This shop is on the main road and there is no parking. As a result, customers are parking on the pavement, leaving the elderly and children to walk on the road. We are not against people starting businesses, but not at the risk of others' safety. This is not the only business in Randles Road guilty of this. Someone has to take a stand as people need to follow the rules.'

Ward councillor Jethro Lefevre said this issue had been raised with him and had been escalated to land use management for investigation. 'I have also sent an e-mail to the municipality building inspectorate and business licensing, requesting urgent intervention. A notice will be served and the owner is given 30 days to respond during which they can alter the building back to its original state or close the building down. Tackling this issue takes time and due processes have to be followed,' he said.

Owner of Da Spares Aunty Mooms Motor Spares, Mumtaaz Ally, said she was trying to make a living and was doing the community a service. She relocated to the house a few weeks ago.

'I am a single mother and run this shop with another single mother. We are trying to survive and provide for our children. I had to fend for myself after I left my abusive ex-husband. This may not be a business zoned road but there are so many businesses on this road. Why are they targeting my business? I am not selling anything illegal. I don't make a noise or cause any disturbances,' she said.

The city has yet to respond to questions on these two complaints.

City Watch
Sunday Tribune


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