CRRA’s year of high profile property queries

It has been a good year for the Constantia Ratepayers’ and Residents’ Association (CRRA).

Despite a couple of minor gripes, this was the message from more than 50 people who attended their 65th annual general meeting at the Alphen Centre on Thursday October 27.

CRRA chairman Alec Pienaar said the re-branding has re-energised the association (“Change of name for property owners’ association”, Bulletin October 22, 2015).

Through marketing promotions on social media, membership has grown and now stands at 560.

In his report, Mr Pienaar said CRRA responded to more than 50 property related applications this year, several of them being high profile cases.

These include:

The Glendirk Farm High Court application which was concluded when the City and owners withdrew their opposition and tendered to pay costs.

Glendirk Farm was at the centre of a court case between the community and the City after it gave the go-ahead for houses to be built on the estate but now the plan will not go ahead. Owned by the Menell Family Trust since 1948, about two-thirds of the 54-hectare estate is under vineyards but there are no wine pressing and processing facilities on the property.

It’s back to the drawing board for the proposed Ladies Mile retail centre after residents were asked to comment on social media earlier this year. CRRA have left the door open for further negotiations with the owners.

The proposed Mount Prospect retirement estate where both Heritage Western Cape and City Heritage agree with the CRRA that such a high density development adjacent to Groot Constantia is inappropriate.

The proposed retirement village at Schoenstatt which has been approved.

The “pot house” case which was finalised this year with the City approving rezoning and departures of erf 2071 on the corner of Doordrift and Spaanschemat River roads. The property is adjacent to Constantia Village and the owner applied to have it rezoned from “Residential 1” to “Local Business Zone 2”.

The CRRA being been extensively consulted on heritage and planning at Constantia Uitsig and they are keeping a close eye on developments there.

Committee member Brian Ratcliffe being the driving force behind the rehabilitation project of De Hel, between Constantia Main Road and Southern Cross Drive. The access road has been upgraded and alien vegetation removed. Mr Ratcliffe is also an exco member of the Friends of Constantia Valley Greenbelts who have approached CRRA with a view to forming a stronger affiliation.

Mr Pienaar said Anna Engelhardt and Yvonne Liebman have resigned from the committee. “The Constantia Valley would look very different today had it not been for Yvonne Liebman’s invaluable contribution, Glendirk farm being only one example,” said Mr Pienaar to applause.

“She puts her whole heart and soul into it.”

He said he will stand down as chairman and his successor has not been decided as yet.

CRRA committee member for marketing, Peter Stenslunde, said that all ratepayers’ associations need to understand what their respective neighbourhoods contribute to the City.

Constantia residents contribute about R329m to the City’s coffers. On average, Constantia rates have gone up 12 percent since July 1 this year and yet the repairs and maintenance budget for the Plumstead South District Depot, that services the entire southern peninsula road network, has come down from R110m to R91m – an 18 percent drop. “Why does resurfacing the Alphen carpark get priority over speed calming measures all over the neighbourhood,” asked Mr Stenslunde.

“The first people the City approaches for more money is residents and ratepayers and yet they write off 2bn worth of bad debt per annum? Recovering 50 percent of bad debts a year over the next 10 years (10bn) would resolve the current backlog of repairs and maintenance across the entire City,” said Mr Stenslunde.

Another issue is the street people loitering on the Spaanschemat/Constantia Main Road corner. Mr Pienaar said they are trying to persuade Growthpoint to erect a fence on the Alphen Spar corner to address this problem.

When the Bulletin spoke to Deidre Paul-Diemont of Growthpoint on Friday November 4 she said a meeting had been held the previous day with law enforcement officials and their security staff to discuss the issue and they were looking into ways to address this. She asked people not to give money to homeless people as this exacerbates the problem.

Another member complained that a politician attends CRRA excom meetings, referring to the ward councillor. He said the association should be apolitical to which Mr Pienaar replied that the councillor has no political stance but is merely a conduit between City departments and the CRRA, thereby improving communication.

Ward councillor Liz Brunette, who attended the meeting, said she had served on the ratepayers’ association for 15 years prior to her present job.

She told residents about the projects undertaken in the valley over the past year.

Among them are traffic congestion measures at junctions including Parish Road and Constantia Main Road; Southern Cross Drive and Parish Road; Wynberg Hill and Constantia Main Road and soon to be Spaanchemat River and Kendal roads.

She said raised intersections will soon be constructed at Pinehurst and Duckitt, the junctions on either side of the Alphen Place retirement village on Southern Cross Drive.

Another project is cycling on certain Constantia greenbelts which she reports has been successful and has increased safety on these routes.

Regarding street people, Ms Brunette said a meeting was held last year and Law Enforcement, Social Development and those responsible for cleansing continue to ask people to move away, but they cannot remove them.

The guest speaker was former DA leader Tony Leon who spoke of the successful elections earlier this year. The following existing members have accepted re-nomination to the 2017 executive committee: Alec Pienaar, Brian Ratcliffe, George Louw, Chris Rousseau, Sheila Camerer, Isabelle Franzen, Mike Eayrs, Gordon Chunnett, Peter Stenslunde, Stef Rabe, Robert Thorp and John Muir. No new nominations were received. For more information about the CRRA, call 021 794 4388 during mornings or email info@crra.co.za