A Randpark Ridge couple and their neighbours on Mopani Road are up in arms over the erection of a cell mast tower in their midst by a company that apparently gained municipal approval without the homeowners being consulted.
Clive Granville and Ingrid Glossop say an “ugly and unsightly monstrosity” is being erected virtually in their backyard by Atlas Towers who “somehow got City of Johannesburg approval” and they will be forced to leave their home if this project goes ahead.
The tower is to be located at 11 Mopani Road, the home of Tim and Anthea van de Velde.
They claim they knew nothing of the tower until Atlas workers arrived on Friday May 11 to start digging.
So far their protests have been in vain.
“The response of Atlas was to ignore us and speed up the construction by working long hours even by car headlights at night and full days on Saturday and Sunday,” they say.
As an engineer himself, Granville had assured his partner that he was “not worried about the low-level radio waves”.
This was until a tree-felling company told Granville that trees around a [similar] mast had died.
Granville then started doing his own research.
“I was horrified to see that there were numerous studies indicating health issues at levels that surround such towers, and even less than that,” Granville says.
After one protest Atlas released the approved plans as well as a list of registered letters purportedly sent out to seven adjoining neighbours and ward councillor Wendy Alexander.
The neighbours say they did not receive the letters as they were sent by registered mail, but not to their local post office. The letters were subsequently returned to the sender.
Granville is putting up a fight, having made representations to the City fathers. He wrote to chief building inspector Billy Posthumus on May 14. Numerous attempts to get through to Posthumus were unsuccessful.
Around May 9, MMC for Development Planning Reuben Masango said a building control officer was suspended pending investigations into allegations of issuing irregular notices to developers, resulting in developments taking place without approved plans.
On May 17 Atlas Tower sent a letter to some of the affected residents and Alexander in which they claim to have all the relevant documentation authorising them to go ahead with the erection of the tower.
On February 27, 2018, the Constitutional Court heard a June 2012 matter between the City of Johannesburg Metropolitan Municipality and the chairman of the National Building Regulatory Review Board where two owners of adjacent properties had objected to the erection of a cellular mast on a private property.
The City argued that it was exercising a constitutional power conferred exclusively on local authorities by granting permission for the erection of the mast. It now seems to ride on the basis of this earlier ruling, which was unopposed.
Earlier in November 2017, Stephan de Beer of the firm Smit & Fisher Planning had written to Alexander informing her that “I intend to apply to the City of Johannesburg for the approval of building plans in order to construct a cellular telephone mast and base station on Erf 403, Randparkrif Extension 1 Township”.
De Beer attached building plans.
Granville and his neighbours fear that while they run around trying to secure legal opinion, work on the site goes ahead.
“Although they could drop the mast in at any time after the concrete set, they refused to stop or give a date. It is likely they figure they could mount the mast before a judge could rule [on the matter].”