Cell mast dilemma

Church can’t end con­tract linked to con­tro­ver­sial tower ap­pli­ca­tion

Talk of the Town - - Front Page - JON HOUZET

ACHURCH at the cen­tre of a pro­posed cell tower con­tro­versy has found it­self un­able to with­draw from the ap­pli­ca­tion process to erect the tower be­cause it signed over power of at­tor­ney to the cell mast com­pany.

Fol­low­ing strong com­mu­nity op­po­si­tion to the pro­posed cell tower be­ing erected on the prop­erty of the Dias Dutch Re­formed Church in Broad­way, Port Al­fred, Do­minie Wikus Ven­ter sent out a let­ter say­ing the church had “with­drawn from the process”, hop­ing to off­set a staged protest out­side the church on Sun­day May 28.

How­ever, this turned out not be ac­cu­rate, as the church coun­cil has since ad­mit­ted it gave At­las Tow­ers power of at­tor­ney when it signed a con­tract with the com­pany in Au­gust last year.

The orig­i­nal power of at­tor­ney doc­u­ment submitted with the ap­pli­ca­tion was un­dated, but this has since been amended.

The pro­posed tower at the Dias NGK was one of four tow­ers pro­posed to be erected on var­i­ous NGK prop­er­ties around Nd­lambe, in­clud­ing in Ne­mato, Bush­man’s River and Bok­nes. BJB Projects was ap­pointed to pro­duce the ap­pli­ca­tion for de­par­ture with Nd­lambe town plan­ning and no­tices were placed call­ing for pub­lic com­ment and ob­jec­tions by June 30.

Res­i­dents have submitted ob­jec­tions to the mu­nic­i­pal­ity, based on health con­cerns over elec­tro­mag­netic ra­di­a­tion, the way the process was be­ing con­ducted, and the im­pact of the tow­ers on prop­erty val­ues.

Two of the ob­jec­tors, Port Al­fred Res­i­dents and Ratepay­ers As­so­ci­a­tion chair­man Dawie van Wyk and a neigh­bour Charles Pellew, met with Ven­ter last Fri­day about their on­go­ing con­cerns.

Af­ter the meet­ing, Van Wyk sum­marised what had been dis­cussed, in­clud­ing the ex­is­tence of a sec­ond power of at­tor­ney doc­u­ment, signed with four in­di­vid­u­als rather than BJB Projects. A copy was pro­vided to TotT.

“[Ven­ter] ex­plained it would be ex­tremely ex­pen­sive for the NG Kerk to get out of the agree­ments signed with At­las Tow­ers and BJB Projects and the cheap­est op­tion for the NG Kerk is to con­tinue with the process and hope that the Nd­lambe Mu­nic­i­pal­ity re­ject the ap­pli­ca­tions on the grounds of the numer­ous ob­jec­tions,” Van Wyk said.

He said the church was re­sort­ing to us­ing the ob­jec­tions of lo­cal res­i­dents to get out of the dilemma.

Van Wyk ap­pealed to the do­minie, “as a ges­ture of good­will”, to en­cour­age his con­gre­gants to sign a pe­ti­tion against the erec­tion of cell phone tow­ers in res­i­den­tial ar­eas in Nd­lambe.

He also asked that the church sub­mit its own ob­jec­tions to the pro­posed cell tower.

“[Ven­ter] in­di­cated to us he was sorry that the church ever started this project,” Van Wyk said.

TotT sent ques­tions to Ven­ter, and he re­sponded that the church coun­cil would sub­mit a press re­lease this week. The church opted to take out a paid ad­ver­tise­ment in the news­pa­per.

In it the church coun­cil ex­plained the back­ground to the project, and said all rental in­come from the masts would have gone to­ward com­mu­nity projects that the church is in­volved in.

“The ful­fil­ment of our mis­sion as a church of Christ, re­quires that we main­tain a pos­i­tive re­la­tion­ship with the com­mu­nity. We did not want this mat­ter to de­velop into po­lar­i­sa­tion be­tween our church and the com­mu­nity. The church coun­cil there­fore de­cided to with­draw from the project.”

But the church coun­cil said when they no­ti­fied At­las Tow­ers of their de­ci­sion, the com­pany “re­sponded that the con­tract gives them power of at­tor­ney which they will ex­er­cise and go through with the ap­pli­ca­tion for ap­proval”.

“Af­ter le­gal ad­vice we de­cided to let the process run its course,” the state­ment con­cluded, ad­vis­ing res­i­dents that they can sub­mit writ­ten ob­jec­tions to the mu­nic­i­pal­ity be­fore June 30.

‘[Ven­ter] in­di­cated to us he was sorry that the church ever started this project’

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.