120618. Cape Town. A Jameson Whiskey bill board up against a building in Christiaan Barnard street. Picture Henk Kruger/Cape Argus

The City of Cape Town could wind up taking itself to the High Court to test a controversial decision by its own planning and general appeals (Planap) committee to approve an advertising signboard on the Foreshore that is visible from the elevated freeway.

This is one possible solution suggested by the city’s legal staff because of the impact this allegedly incorrect decision could have on future advertising applications.

But during a closed meeting, Planap took strong exception to such a move, with committee and mayco member Grant Pascoe calling the internal report where the proposal was made “a serious allegation” against them.

“(Pascoe) expressed his concern on the integrity of the members, whose characters had been negatively impacted on, as well as the decisions made by Planap,” the confidential minutes state.

In the meantime, the city is getting a senior counsel’s opinion on the issue.

A signboard advertising alcohol was erected at the site in Oswald Pirow Street, Culemborg, as far back as 2003, but the city’s transport department claims it was coerced into approving this by then city manager Wallace Mgoqi and that the signboard actually fell foul of the outdoor advertising and signage by-law.

The original graphic, featuring whisky, has been changed several times since, but the proposed beer graphic in the current application, which caused the inter-council row, has not yet been erected.

The application to erect a new sign at the site with its “complex history” was submitted by Elevated Outdoor in November 2010.

The Good Hope subcouncil recommended to the city’s spatial planning, environment and land use (Spelum) committee that the application should be refused because it did not comply with the by-law, and Spelum agreed at its May meeting last year.

But in October, Planap upheld an appeal against Spelum’s decision.

According to city staff, Planap’s appeal decision meant that the application did not comply with a “non-waivable” provision of the by-law.

Planap upheld the appeal because there was no substantial evidence that previous advertisements here had caused any accidents, and had therefore not been “unacceptable distractions”.

But transport and legal staff said the relevant clause had to be read as two separate requirements, and that it did not meet the second requirement because it was visible from the elevated freeway at the point where it turns through a 90-degree bend to connect Nelson Mandela Boulevard with Table Bay Boulevard.

During a closed meeting in March,

Planap decided to postpone any decision pending further discussions with senior city executives.

l The council is in recess from Friday until Monday July 16.

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Cape Argus