Outrage at home business

2008-01-29 00:00

THE municipality has failed to completely shut down a business operating from a house in Prestbury, neighbours say.

Residents of Inyoni Place and Wilkes Road said council is failing to implement its own by-laws to bar Vincent Declerck from operating a kitchen unit and ward-robe assembly business there.

Declerck applied to council to operate the home business after he had already been operating since August 2006, as he was unaware that he needed permission.

He was granted permission in December 2006 to operate for three months subject to several conditions, failing which the business would be immediately shut down.

Declerck consulted his immediate neighbours before the application was granted and they supported the business activity. However, they have since withdrawn their support after the business began to negatively affect their health and enjoyment of their own homes.

“I have not had a braai at my home for two years … The noise made by the power tools used by Declerck and the air pollution from the wood dust and spray paints … have worsened the health of my family and several of our neighbours in the area,” said Johan van Staden.

Neighbours said the business operates outside the normal hours of 8 am to 5 pm, which Declerck denies.

“The trees and boundary walls between myself and the neighbours provide an adequate screen to shield them from the noise, which was restricted to seven decibels above the ambient noise level. Nobody has ever measured this noise to quantify that I have exceeded the noise level,” said Declerck.

He said he works in regular business hours on a small scale with domestic tools that generate a minimal amount of noise.

“I only assemble pre-cut components. I do not manufacture cupboards and spray painting is very minimal,” he said.

Van Staden is one of 11 residents who feel that Declerck should find alternative premises.

Harold Hudson, who has lived in the area for over 40 years, said he feels disappointed by the municipality. “Tolerating one industrial activity has opened the door to others … We demand that the municipality stop him from operating in this area,” he said.

Declerck claims that he no longer operates from the premises but from a rented space in the city centre. He denied that he has been served with a section 77 notice stopping him from operating, but said he received a call from the town planning department advising him to halt operation in the area pending the outcome of an appeal to the Town Planning Appeals Board.

“Van Staden does not know the implications of what he is trying to do. He is effectively putting me out of business, which means that there will be a large number of people depending on me and my workers’ salaries who go hungry … My business is still small and needs to flourish,” said Declerck.

Following an inspection of the property by the town planning department, council declared that Declerck was not in breach of any council by-laws or the Town Planning Ordinance. However, council’s approval of Declerck’s application to operate is subject to the outcome of the residents’ appeal to the Town Planning Appeals Board.

The municipality was unable to respond to questions sent to them by yesterday afternoon.

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