Residents object to Kirstenhof cell mast

A Paarl company wants to build a cell mast on this field in Sterlig and Jupiter roads, Kirstenhof. Fiore Pegge, who lives nearby, says the municipal land used to be covered in alien vegetation and she and her husband have been tending to the site, at their own cost, for the past 25 years. She fears a cell mast will destroy all their hard work.

Plans to put up a cell mast near a field in Sterlig and Jupiter roads, Kirstenhof, have drawn objections from residents.

Fiore Pegge, who lives in Sterlig Road, across from the municipal land, said it had once been covered in alien vegetation and she had her husband had been looking after it at their own cost for almost 25 years (“Civic appeals for help to beautify Kirstenhof”, Bulletin February 3).

“There are a number of protected indigenous trees and plants and also a community-funded bench,” she said.

While the site is not an official open municipal park, it is known as Sterlig Park by locals.

According to the application for the mast, advertised in the media on March 11, Rich Reward Leasing, a Paarl company, wants to put up a 15-metre monopole cell mast and pay the City R14 567 a month for 10 years, escalating by 8% a year.

In the application, the City says leasing the site will aid service delivery, provide it with market-related rental, improve access to technology, and reduce security and maintenance costs associated with unoccupied land.

Natalie Hart has objected to the proposal, saying the mast will be 6m from Bright Light Montessori, a pre-school she founded in 2019 when she moved to Sterlig Road.

She feels too little is known about the long-term effects of cell-mast radiation on children. She has a nine-month-old daughter and there are 34 children, aged 9 months to 6 years, in her care. “Not knowing what could happen to their future is scary,” she said.

Guy Wacher, who lives in Sterlig Road, said only residents living next to the field had received notice of the proposal. “This is not adequate considering that the field is used by the greater Kirstenhof community and adjacent areas for recreation,” he said.

Caeleen Holmes said she had objected because she felt the mast would spoil the field that residents had beautified with 70 indigenous trees, including such protected species as white milkwoods (Sideroxylon inerme), Breede River yellowwoods (Podocarpus elongatus) and Outeniqua yellowwoods (Podocarpus falcatus).

The field was also home to a variety of indigenous plants, including pincushions, and was visited by a range of indigenous fauna, including porcupines, tortoises, leopard toads, owls, bokmakieries and spotted dikkops, she said, adding that fish eagles regularly flew low over the site and African harrier-hawks and black sparrowhawks were regular visitors.

“We now have flourishing parks in and around Kirstenhof. This mast will take up much space and be an eyesore on our beautiful field.”

Ward councillor Carolynne Franklin has objected to the proposal saying there is no proof that Kirstenhof has connectivity problems. “The connectivity issues are in Tokai. I have suggested two alternative unused sites on City-owned land, opposite traffic lights on Tokai Main Road and the off-ramp alongside Pollsmoor, within 500m of Sterlig Park.”

City spokesman Luthando Tyhalibongo said there were no restrictions on placing a cell mast near a school. If the lease application was approved, the applicant would have to apply for spilt zoning to allow for the telecommunications infrastructure.

MTN, Cell C and Vodacom would be accommodated on the mast, with 4G and, later, 5G compatibility, Mr Tyhalibongo said.

The City has received 24 objections to the mast and two comments in support of it, according to Mr Tyhalibongo. Friday April 29 is the deadline for public comment.