An upmarket rehab centre is on the cards for Peter Cloete Avenue in Constantia.
In the past, the Constantia Ratepayers’ and Residents’ Association (CRRA) has objected to such “halfway houses”.
Bruce Rubenstein, of Genesis Treatment Solutions, an organisation for recovering addicts, both local and overseas, said there was a huge need for rehabilitation facilities and there were already several in the area.
Mr Rubenstein, who calls himself Genesis’s “funder”, and Genesis operations officer James Rushby said they had spent a year looking for the right property and the one in Peter Cloete Avenue offered a serene environment for those needing rehabilitation.
Mr Rubenstein said they had moved onto the property five months ago and were leasing it from the owners, Sara and Mogamat Riki Carriem.
However, Municipal Planning Tribunal (MPT) chairman Dave Daniels said Ms and Mr Carriem had been fined R25 000 in August because the rehab centre had been operating on property not zoned for that purpose.
Mayoral committee member for transport and urban development Brett Herron, said the rezoning application process had continued after the owner of the property had paid the fine in early September.
Ms Carriem said she and her husband were under the impression the “fine” was an administration or application fee and that it had to be paid because it had taken the City’s planning department so long to process applications for rezoning.
Ms Carriem said they had decided the mansion was too big for the family and had down-scaled to a four-bedroom house in Nova Constantia.
While trying to sell the mansion, they had run it as a luxury guest house, called Alphen’s Edge,to pay the rates and upkeep of the property.
The house stands on 3 842m2, has eight bedrooms, six of them en suite, one with a Jacuzzi; one cottage; a tennis court; swimming pool; conference facilities for up to 12 people; and underfloor heating.
Ms Carriem said that when Mr Rubenstein and Mr Rushby had approached them with the rehab concept they had thought it “a perfect solution to share the beauty of the house and the area”.
But this meant rezoning the property from single residential to general residential.
An application to rezone to general residential 2 (GR2) was published in a daily newspaper in September for an “institution (post-operative rehabilitation, convalescent, drug rehabilitation) and guest house with a maximum of 30 patients”.
But a motivation report sent to the City of Cape Town refers to an application for a GR4 zoning.
General residential zoning allows for, among other things, as consent-uses (ie: needing council approval), a place of worship, hospital, hotel, shop, school and rooftop base telecommunication base station.
The GR2 category allows for building height of 15m whereas GR4 allows for 24m.
Ms Carriem said they had filed the application to rezone 18 months ago and paid R25 000 on Tuesday August 21. Mr Herron said it was paid on Monday September 3. He also said the rezoning application had been filed on Wednesday March 7.
Mr Rubenstein said he believed neighbours feared a hospital could be built on the property, or that parties would take place, but that was not the case.
He said they planned to rehabilitate people for addictions, including ones for alcohol, drugs and gambling. The centre would be a place where the patients could walk on the Alphen Trail, swim and do yoga. The Constantia environment was conducive to healing.
Mr Rushby said the planning application included the removal of the tennis court to meet the parking requirements for the rezoning. That was a pity, he said, because rehab clients would have enjoyed playing tennis as part of their therapy. He said extra parking was not necessary because most of their clients were from overseas and did not have vehicles.
Mr Rushby said South Africa had some of the best rehabilitation centres in the world and the equivalent care in Europe was much more costly.
Mr Rubenstein said they did not do detox at the centre and only had voluntary therapy with no outpatients.
Chris Rousseau, of the CRRA, said the application had been discussed at the association’s meeting on Friday October 5 and a site meeting would take place at noon today, Thursday October 11.
The closing date for comment on this application is Monday October 22 and can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org