Another mast on the rise

Steenberg residents have raised concerns about yet another proposal to put up a cell mast in the area.

Currently there is a mast in Military Road and last year MTN submitted an application to the City of Cape Town to rezone a 9m2 portion of land from a residential zone to a utility zone to erect a cell tower at the Galilean Church in Galilee Close, Steenberg.

However, after a group of residents protested and started a petition to stop the rezoning in Galilee Close, citing health risks and a drop in property values, the municipal planning tribunal subsequently rejected the application.

Two weeks ago residents from Franz Square received letters to notify them of the application to rezone a 64m2 portion of erf 82824, which is part of Steenberg High School.

The applicant, Eaton Towers, has applied to rezone the property from non-residential; it is currently used for educational purposes, to a utility zone to permit a free-standing base telecommunications station that will be 25 metres high. The property is owned by the provincial Department of Education.

In the application, Eaton Towers said the reason for the application for another cell tower in Steenberg is because recent research conducted has indicated that there is a severe lack of cellular infrastructure to provide optimal and efficient data and voice coverage to the surrounding community.

Resident Janice Cronje received the registered letter notifying them about the planned rezoning about two weeks ago.

Ms Cronje, a mother of two young children, said she will take all things into consideration before commenting on the proposed cell tower.

“I have two small kids and I would not want to put them at risk. I will do some research and if I find that there is a health risk I will be objecting,” she said.

She said her family also has a genetic predisposition to cancer. “I wouldn’t want to make myself or other family members even more susceptible to cancer,” said Ms Cronje.

Another resident, Sadia Jackson, who lives in Orchestra Street, said she did not receive a letter and will be objecting to the proposed tower.

“There was no notification about a cell mast because they know people will object to it. Cell masts are not supposed to be put in residential areas.

“All the radiation emanating from a cell tower and us living so close to it cannot be healthy.”

“The businesses say there are no health risks but nobody knows what long-term health risks these masts pose to us,” she said.

She also questioned whether an environmental impact assessment was or will be done.

In the application, however, it states that an environmental impact assessment is only needed when there is an application to put up a cell tower in or near a conservation area or when it is zoned for conservation purposes.

The decision on the application will be made by the Municipal Planning Tribunal at the conclusion of the public participation process after taking into consideration the public input for when the land use application is assessed.

Any objections, comment or representation can be lodged in writing at the District Manager in Victoria Road, Plumstead, or email to before or on Friday August 31.

Mark Solomons, chairperson of the Retreat/Steenberg Civic Association, said the association has a mandate to object to cell tower applications because of residents’ concerns.

“We are against cellphone masts to be put up at schools and churches because residents have concerns about radiation and it being unsightly,” said Mr Solomons.

He adds, however, that cell masts can be beneficial to the community.

“CCTV camera signals feed off high towers which can be installed on cell masts. This can benefit crime ridden communities but we understand the community’s concerns about health safety, radioactiveness and the other issues raised around cellphone towers,” said Mr Solomons.