Residents win Retreat mast battle

Notice was given to residents about MTNs plan to put up a cell mast in Retreat.

Steenberg residents have successfully overturned a proposal to have a piece of land in their community rezoned for a cell mast.

In January, residents received letters from the City of Cape Town stating that MTN had made an application 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 (“Rising mast concerns,” Southern Mail, February 22).

Since then residents living near the church have been vocal about their disapproval of the proposed tower, saying it would be an eyesore, lower their property values and could pose a health hazard.

After countless protests and consultation with councillors, the City and the church, residents started a petition and the objections were tabled at a Municipal Planning Tribunal.

Malcolm Little, was vocal about the matter along with many other senior citizens in the area.

“We are pensioners who have been living in this area for over 40 years.

“We want to live in peace, but we will not sit by idly and watch our neighbourhood and our health deteriorate because of cell towers,” said Mr Little.

At the time, MTN spokesperson Mamello Raborifi confirmed that the operator wanted to have the land rezoned but said they were subject to by-laws and would stick to what the Municipal Planning Tribunal decided.

On Tuesday July 18, the Tribunal met to finalise the rezoning application and residents were ecstatic when the rezoning application was rejected.

Mr Little said the high number of written objections and petitions submitted by the community had helped to sway the tribunal’s decision. “We are elated by the outcome and want to encourage other communities to stand up for their democratic rights. Government also needs to take cognisance of radiation emitted by these towers; it is harmful. With asbestos, discovered later that it was detrimental to people’s health and laws were put in place to stop building with asbestos. The same needs to be done about cell tower radiation,” he said.

Mark Solomons, chairperson of the Retreat/Steenberg Civic Association, said the decision to reject the proposed cell tower was a testament to the power community had.

“We are very pleased that it was rejected and that the community were successful in their objections.

“In many areas these things get approved even when people object. This case indicates the importance of residents to have a say in what happens in their area. I implore people to attend public meetings and give their input on important issues,’” said Mr Solomons.

Brett Herron, Mayco member for transport and urban development, said the City could not comment on the specific case yet.

“The minutes of the Municipal Planning Tribunal (MPT) meeting are usually published a week after being endorsed by tribunal members and signed off by the chairperson and we are awaiting these approved minutes,” he said.