Ashburton zoning furore

2010-04-30 00:00

LOCAL residents are objecting to the construction of a large building currently under way on the site of a trucking business in Ashburton.

The truck operation, visible from the N3 highway, has been an object of controversy for some time and it is understood that on Wednesday a council meeting gave the go-ahead to proceed with legal action against the United Truck Centre owned by Ayoob Moosa.

Local residents have long complained that the truck yard is an eyesore and operates on property not zoned for business.

On September 10, 2008, a rezoning application was submitted by Bluepoint Development and Planning on behalf of Moosa, the owner of the property.

On November 6 that year, it was advertised that the municipality was to consider an application to rezone the property at 50 Old Main Road, Ashburton, from “‘Garden Lot Zone 1’ to ‘Special Business’ Zone (in order to regularise the selling and parking of trucks)”.

Objectors complained that the application for rezoning was made after the trucking business had been established and did not reflect the environmental degradation that had taken place on the site.

For example, when asked in the application if any trees would have to be cut down, the answer given was “no”. Objectors say this is because all the trees had been removed before the application.

The site was the subject of a case heard in the high court in February 2009 between the landowner and the Msunduzi Municipality as the landowner had not applied for special consent to run a business and was conducting a trucking business on property zoned for Garden Lot Zone 1 usage, and had terraced the site and removed all the vegetation.

The municipality lost the case on a technicality but reportedly reinstituted proceedings.

At Wednesday’s council meeting, the first full council meeting since last month’s appointment of a provincial task team to run the municipality, the matter was considered as a confidential item and it is understood the go-ahead was given to proceed with legal action.

Ashburton ward councillor Sandy Lyne did not want to go into detail about what was discussed during the closed council session, but said residents should be reassured that the new administration is giving urgent attention to illegal usages.

“They are looking at various illegal operations and this one in particular,” she said. “We now have the confidence that council will take the matter forward.”

Mike Jewitt of the Preservation of the Mkondeni Mpushini Biodiversity Trust, who was first alerted to the structure on the truck site going up at the weekend, said the trust had taken legal advice, but had decided not to proceed but to await the outcome of the council’s decision.

Moosa, owner of the United Truck Centre, refused to talk to The Witness, referring all communication to his attorney. Carlos Miranda, who said: “No comment.”

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