Residents say no to tower

The AGS Church, Vergesig.

A Durbanville church wants to make several thousand rand each month by letting a company build a 25-metre cell tower on its property, but its neighbours aren’t impressed.

The application by the AGS Church on St John’s Road, Vergesig, to let Highwave Consultants (Pty) Ltd build the tower, has met some resistance from residents.

They argue it will erode their property values, make it harder to sell their homes, ruin the area’s rural feel and possibly even harm their health.

However, church spokesman Cyril Rosalt says no conclusive evidence has found that cell tower radiation harms humans.

The tower would help to improve cellphone reception and internet connectivity in the area and also bring in money for the church to cover its day-to-day costs.

Mr Rosalt said three companies had approached the church with the proposal.

“After being approached by these companies, I started doing research on the issue. The process went on for about four to six months before we signed the contract.”

But, resident Verne Jankielsohn questioned why the cell mast had to be put up in a residential area, when there still wasn’t enough information about cell towers to declare them 100 percent safe.

Why can’t the council encourage existing towers to be upgraded like the one in Erica Street or for new towers to be built well away from residential dwellings, as there is not much information available on the impact that these towers have on people.”

Other concerned residents, who didn’t want to be named, said the consultation process was “procedurally flawed”, as no notice had been put up and a letter about the application had only been sent out in English.

They said few residents knew about the plans or had received the notification letter.

One resident said they had bought in the area a year ago because of its rural character, which would now be spoilt by the 25 metre “monstrosity”.

However, Mr Rosalt does not believe the tower will harm property values.

He himself lives across the road from the church.

“As a resident myself, I would not have considered this if I believed that it would affect my health or property value,” he said.

He urged residents to be objective and look at the facts and figures, not hearsay.

If council approves the application, construction could start in the new year and last about six weeks.

The contract with Highwave, he said, was a standard 10-year agreement, but could change if there were any technological developments.

He said the contract prevented him from saying exactly how much the church would get paid, but noted that that amount usually averaged between R3 500 to R4 000 a month.

“This is not for any individual’s benefit but could help the church, and the church is there to serve the community,” said Mr Rosalt.

Ms Jankielsohn, however, believes residents need more information to make an informed decision.

Northern News was unable to reach Highwave Consultants for comment by the time this edition went to print.

* Residents have until Monday November 14 to table their objections in writing. The application may be inspected at the office of the district manager at the municipal offices, Brighton Road, Kraaifontein, between 8am and 2.30pm from Monday to Friday.

Any objections, comment or representation on the proposal may be lodged at comment_objections.northern@capetown.gov.za or submitted to the office of the district manager.