Fuel station proceeds

2019-02-18 15:31
City speaker facing the axe.

City speaker facing the axe. (File)

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A local developer who has plans to build a filling station and car wash on College Road has now in principle been given the green light by the City.

The development is controversial and previously attracted a petition signed by 101 objectors.

The City’s executive committee (Exco) has now however overturned its initial decision to refuse the developer special consent for the proposed development in College Road.

This comes after the applicant Peter Jewel — on behalf of Vijen Singh Group Holdings — successfully appealed the December 2017 decision of the municipal tribunal where it partially approved his rezoning application combining four properties.

Jewel had made an application to rezone four portions of the property from general residential to general business.

He also requested special consent from the municipality to build a fuel station and a car wash, which was denied even though the rezoning application was approved.

In giving its reasons for the refusal, the tribunal had said there was insufficient evidence to prove that the area needed a petrol filling station.

“The feasibility study is insufficient, and many objectors are of the same view,” read the report that came before Exco last week.

It said another concern raised by objectors was about the traffic volume in the area as it was already heavy.

The development, which would see four vacant residential sites cleared to make space for it, has been seen as controversial by the community.

A petition against it, attached to the agenda of an appeal advisory committee meeting in June, had 101 signatures.

Last week the City’s appeals authority — which is the Exco — adopted the recommendations of its municipal planning appeal advisory panel to rescind the refusal of the application.

The panel is made up of legal experts, surveyors and town planners, who advise the councillors who are members of the Exco on town planning matters.

They found that the planned development was not inconsistent with the spatial development framework of the area, where densification and intensification was encouraged.

All municipal departments also supported the developer’s application.

“No expert evidence was presented by objectors that refute the technical arguments advanced by the applicant [Jewel], and they relied primarily on legal technicalities in an attempt to stifle the application,” read the Exco report.

The panel also observed that sites along College Road have lost all residential amenity and the developer was also not declined the application to rezone from residential to commercial.

It was recommended that conditional special consent be granted.

Among conditions the developer must meet is to submit a detailed site development plan, which must have the approval of the traffic department prior to the submission of building plans.

“The bulk of the future commercial building to be erected is to be used to shield the petrol filling station activities from the adjacent residential apartments and developments,” read the document.

They also recommended that a traffic island be installed in College Road along the length of the application site and that New Scotland Road be partially widened to mitigate any potential traffic issues.

The councillors said the reasons that were given for the initial refusal by the tribunal were not substantive.

The DA’s Glenn McArthur said the report given to Exco was not comprehensive. “I don’t understand how the tribunal can just say they are refusing the application because the site is not suitable for a filling station but then don’t give reasons why they think it’s unsuitable,” he said.

Acting general manager for sustainable development Atkins Khoali said the development complied with the strategy of the municipality as the precinct had been identified as an economic node.

He said there was also a market survey done which supported the development. “This development will not be incompatible with what is already happening in that area,” said Khoali.

One of the main objectors, Greg Maskell, said they were disappointed by the Exco’s resolution.

“We are very upset about it. It was a very bad decision to overturn the tribunal’s ruling. We are planning to engage our ward councillor on the matter so that he can take our petition to council,” he said.

Maskell said the community’s concerns were surrounding severe traffic congestion, an increase in noise and possible increases in pollution.

“The traffic on College Road during peak hours is already horrendous … The area doesn’t need another filling station, there are already more than a dozen others in a five-kilometre radius of that property and that was one of the reasons the application was declined.”

He said further there are three schools in the vicinity of the earmarked property and the safety of the pupils could be compromised.

“They want to bring 80 000 litres of fuel to an area where you have schools and families living right next to the site,” Maskell said.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  msunduzi municipality

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