Report back on Responses received on Commonage articles – 2016-019

During our campaign to inform the Ward 2 community of the intent by TWKM to alienate a portion of the Commonage (Erf # 595), we have tried to separate the undoubted benefits of the fruit farming venture from what we believe to be the unnecessary and illegal sale of the land itself. The fruit farming venture can proceed independently by leasing the land. In fact, it is our considered opinion that the venture would be more viable under a lease arrangement.

We highlight below the responses as received in respect of the various and extensive comments submitted by the community in response to the series of articles published by the Ward 2 Forum on the subject. The topics and points raised have, for ease of reference, been categorised into separate headings:

RESPONSES

  1. Spraying of fruit trees with chemicals

Due to the proximity of the proposed fruit farming development to residential areas, sufferers of respiratory ailments such as hay fever and Asthma have expressed concern that spraying of the fruit trees may cause increased problems because of the closer proximity to Greyton, in particular when the wind is from the southeast.

The export-driven fruit industry is managed with a high level of monitoring and control. However, an EIA will have to examine the situation and if it considered that the negative impact of spraying on human health is significant, mitigation measures will have to be considered.

  1. River pollution

The Sonderend River is known to have unacceptably high pollution levels at times, associated with the lack of municipal control of the effluent from both the Genadendal and Greyton sewage facilities. It is hoped that a joint venture between Ward 2 and TWKM will resolve this situation before it becomes too serious. The value of the farming businesses downstream from us is far too important to allow this to continue, but the measures needed for improvement are largely dependent on Government funding and the inclination from TWKM.

  1. Loss of Renosterveld

Concern for Renosterveld areas in the Greyton Commonage has been expressed. Because it occurs in fertile clay-rich soils, the majority of the area has been transformed over the years to agriculture. Less than 2% of the original extent is now formerly conserved. Renowned for spring flower displays, it often has a high grass content, hence its value for grazing.

As part of the EIA, the quality of the Renosterveld areas will be assessed, together with a plan to mitigate further degradation, and possibly to conserve some areas. Cape-Nature and the Overberg Lowlands Conservation Trust will be asked to contribute to this process.

 

 

  1. Employment opportunities

Various views have been taken of the number of employees required to operate a typical fruit farm. An important aspect of the project is the potential employment in particular of local workers. Hortgro, an organisation within the deciduous fruit industry, which is responsible for production, markets and transformation, publishes data for the industry; for example for 2014, the average number of employees per hectare was 1.17 for apple farms and 1.05 for pear farms. The figures are the total permanent equivalent, include seasonal workers. Dependents are said to average an additional 400%.

  1. Housing

The financial and social benefits of using as much local labour as possible, which has been confirmed by the Consortium, are very evident in terms of minimising the possibility of having to build houses on the farm, and to provide municipal services.

It is not clear how the expectations of the Ward 2 community will match those of the Consortium.

  1. Employee training and development

It is understood in the fruit farming industry that extensive training and development of employees is a major requirement, so that, although local employees are preferred, it is not always possible to guarantee sufficient numbers when they are required.

For this project to be really successful, training and mentoring are considered prime requirements. Some local agricultural educational facility may be considered and discussed as part of the EIA.

This item should be considered an essential element in the PROPOSALS FOR THE PROJECT.

  1. Project funding

The original prospectus states that no Government funding of the project would be required, except for services of the Land Bank. Additional funds could be available from the Department of Agriculture.

  1. Vigne Legacy – Greyton Commonage

It is clear from our research and documentation obtained from various sources that the Greyton Commonage was intended to be land for the use of all and that the land was never to be alienated. http://ward2forum.org/vigne-legacy-greyton-commonage-report-2016-015/#comment-28. It is the view of W2F that the veracity of the Vigne Legacy and intent is not in dispute and that the onus now remains with TWKM to prove the opposite.

Furthermore we are of the view that the Local Authority does not have the right?? to negotiate any alienation of the remainder of Erf 595. 

  1. Rural Development – Greyton Infrastructure

screenshot_1949Concern was expressed by many about the current status quo in respect of the Greyton Infrastructure and in particular the road system that would have to cater for additional agricultural and large vehicular traffic, which will be utilising the R 406 through Greyton. This will be addressed in the EIA.

  1. Availability of Water from the Breede-Gouritz Water Management Area (WMA)

It is a known fact that no “free” water is available in the Sonderend River, as all available water has already been allocated to existing farms in the Water Catchment Area. The only water still available would have to be “procured” from existing farms and transferred to the new proposed farming entity that is hoping to develop portion of Erf 595 as a fruit farm. The transfer of water rights, if there are any available, is done by the Dept of Water Affairs in conjunction with the WMA. However, if water is available and motivation good, this could potentially be negotiated between the relevant parties.

  1. Flooding of the project area

The Engineering Report for the Greyton Commonage Spatial Framework Plan (June 2000) refers to the absence of flood line data for the Gobos and Sonderend Rivers in the area of the project. It was recommended that a detailed study should be carried out in order to identify areas suitable for the construction of habitable structures. It was also suggested that minor earth works may be necessary to control the routing of flood waters.

It was stated that agricultural, recreational and sporting activities could be carried out below the 1:100 flood lines, based on their understanding of the probable position of these flood lines.

The possible failure of the category 3 Theewaterskloof Dam was also considered. The inundated area would be expected to cover a wider area than the 1:100 flood lines, but the risk of such failure was stated to be far lower than the 1:100 return period – “it is in fact extremely low and unlikely”.

  1. Financial failure of registered owners of ‘Newco’

Unfortunately the possible failure of the proposed new business has to be considered as it may lead to the sale of assets of the business, such as the land itself, the subsequent development of which could be against the interests and expectations of the community. This could not occur if the land ownership is retained by TWKM, and it is leased to the business.

This is an ADDITIONAL OBJECTION AGAINST ALIENATION OF THE PORTION OF ERF 595.

  1. Alternative business partners

The proposals made by us originated in the reality of Ward 2, where the whole community must benefit from a significant opportunity such as this project. Farm 39 has sufficient ‘spare’ land suitable for fruit farming, also adequate water rights. Within this community and the Consortium there should be sufficient labour with the required experience and skills, coupled with training and mentoring, to minimise the need for workers from outside the local area.

Because of our understanding that the elements of a successful business were already available in the area, we have not looked at alternative business models or constituent elements. However, it must be up to all the parties concerned to discuss and negotiate the way forward. Their success will undoubtedly lead to other such ventures.

We will keep you informed.

Should you want to be placed on the Ward 2 Forum Database please email us at the following address mygreyton@ward2forum.org

 Ward 2 Forum Team

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Greyton Commonage Objections (Part 1 of 2). Report 2016-018

The objection in Part 1 only applies to the alienation of the portion of Erf 595 on which the proposed fruit farm project is located. Part 2 proposes an alternative leasehold method of acquiring land for the same project.

Part 2 also identifies various aspects of the farming project itself, which are considered to enhance the benefits for the Consortium of Fruit Farmers, TWKM and the Ward 2 community.

screenshot_1946

PART 1: OBJECTION TO ALIENATION OF PART OF ERF 595

With reference to the Notice in the Theewaterskloof Gazette on 19 January 2016 for the proposed alienation of about 235 ha of Erf 595 in Greyton at R 4,329,850, and a subsequent Notice in the Gazette of 23 February 2016, extending the period for submission of comments and objections to 31 March 2016, we are hereby submitting an objection to the proposed alienation on the following grounds:

  1. The price of the property

The proposed price of R 4.3 m is based on the valuation of vacant land with no consideration at all for its potential value if professionally marketed with its various features identified. Although still zoned ‘Undetermined’, which means no Primary or Consent Uses, once rezoned the potential uses of the property could include housing development, agriculture or resort development, representing considerably different land values. In fact, the valuation incorrectly states that the land is ‘Authority’ zoned. As Commonage, the land has considerable added value because of the grazing of horses and cattle, and recreational uses, enjoyed by the community for over 150 years.

There is no evidence that the longer term future value of this land has even been considered.

The proposed price of R 0.02 m per ha is unrealistically low compared with rateable values (July 2014) of other vacant land in the Greyton Commonage (R 0.05 – 0.08 m per ha). The rateable value of a further area (8,7 ha) of land within the urban edge, although zoned for residential use, but also vacant and without any services, is R 0.33 m per ha.

It seems that the lowest possible valuation of the land has been determined, based on a nominal cultivated ‘field price’ of R 45,000 per ha, discounted by 60% on the basis that the soil has not been cultivated and contains alien vegetation. However, the prospectus, when considering the financial benefits to TWKM, states that the business will apparently be worth R 150 m when it is mature, which is R 640,000 per ha. The difference between current cost and future business value of over 1400% must be questioned.

It is considered that the price for this property has been hugely under-valued, without any reasonable justification, and therefore does not comply with the requirements of Section 14 of the Municipal Finance Management Act (Act 56 of 2003) which states that:

  • The municipality has considered the fair market value for the asset, and the economic and community value to be received in exchange for the asset (section 14 (2)(b));

 It is further considered that the unrealistic price represents the loss of a potentially highly valuable asset by TWKM, the whole municipal population and in particular the community of Ward 2. 

  1. The economic and community value received from the disposal

The disposal of the Commonage land itself is stated in the prospectus to create significant financial benefit for the municipality from Rates and services. However, the Rates payable are dependent on the annual valuation of the land so will take time to grow to the estimated annual potential of R 300,000 and even then will only account for a very small part of the TWKM Rates base.

The net value to TWKM of municipal services, although dependent on the scale of the development, would not be significant.

On the other hand, the provision of bulk municipal services, which would also vary depending on the scale of development, has not been assessed in terms of their availability and the cost of providing them. The prospectus does not include a clause specifying that the buyer of the property is responsible for the full costs of providing the services.

The above benefits are real, but are dependent on the farming business itself, independently of the land disposal. They would be the same if the land was leased at a realistic level instead of being sold off. Therefore they should not be considered to support the argument for sale of the land.

The transfer of ownership is considered to be unfair, inequitable and not competitive in terms of the Municipal Finance Management Act (section 14 (5)), thus making it illegal.

  1. Public Participation Process

TWKM reported that they were in discussions with potential purchasers of this property in 2003, and had earmarked it for alienation for small holdings. There is no reference to this in the SDF of 2003-2005, and the project was abandoned. We requested the Municipal Manager on 3 February 2016 to provide access to Council resolutions relating to the rezoning of the property at that time, but have received nothing.

We have also requested the following information relating to the current proposal, but to no avail:

  • Minutes of the TWKM Council Meeting at which a vote on the project was taken;
  • Details of any restrictions in the Title Deeds for the property;
  • Details of any alternative projects that were assessed in comparison with the proposal.

We have been unfairly denied these documents in time to make meaningful comment on them before the deadline.

There is no record of any attempt by TWKM to communicate with any person who uses the Commonage for any legitimate reason, and there has been no offer of alternative land or financial compensation for these users. Further, there has been no attempt at all to determine the level of support from the residents of the community for the sale of the land.

This does not conform to the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act (No 3 of 2000), particularly section 3 which relates to the fairness of administrative action which materially and adversely affects the rights or legitimate expectations of any person.

  1. Legality of the proposed alienation

4.1 PC.Doc.12/1997: Municipal Commonage policy and procedure:

  • screenshot_1948There is no evidence that TWKM have consulted with the Dept of Land Affairs (DLA), to satisfy themselves that the proposed development will not result in the dispossession of people’s rights (formal or informal) granted on or over the Greyton Commonage.
  • Local people who have rights to graze cattle or horses on the property have not been approached on the matter, and their situation has not been considered. No arrangements have been made for alternative land or financial compensation.
  • Where town development and urbanisation require Commonage to be sold, wide support from local residents must be obtained. There is not, and never has been, any municipal policy that maintains that this or any other portion of the Commonage is required for the development of Greyton.
  • The municipality may not alienate, dispose of or sell the Remainder of a Municipal Commonage property but must retain and utilise the said Remainder for public use, which is to ensure that such land is released to the needy local residents for agricultural purposes on a leasehold basis.

The Minister of Land Affairs approved the municipal commonage policy on 12 June 1997, emphasising the fact that municipal commonage is land, which has a public character, and that land needed by local poor residents for agricultural purposes should be made available on a leasehold basis for such purposes.

It is clear that the proposed alienation fails to comply with any of the 4 policy statements above that are the essence of the Government policy issued in 1997.

4.2 TWKM By-law:

According to the TWKM By-law, which was gazetted on 21 June 2015, municipal commonage means land owned by, or under control of, the municipality which has a zoning of ‘undetermined’ and which may be set aside for grazing or for such other purposes or use as may be deemed necessary by the municipality. There is no reference whatsoever to the possible sale or alienation of Commonage land.

Clearly, the proposed alienation does not comply with the above municipal By-law.

4.3 The Will of Herbert Vigne

Herbert Vigne WillIt is absolutely clear that Herbert Vigne bequeathed the Commonage to the people of Greyton. Neither the Will, nor the intent, has ever been in dispute. It is considered that if there had been any intent to permit alienation of all or part of the Commonage, contrary to Herbert Vigne’s Will, then some evidence would have been found. No such evidence has been found.

There is no known record of the removal of restrictions presumed to have been in the original Title Deeds when the 2 farms Kanon Berg and Boschmanskloof were separated out of Erf 595 to create the Greyton Nature Reserve on 13 May 1977.

Whatever may have actually happened to cast doubt on the validity of the Government policy in relation to Greyton’s Commonage is shrouded in mystery. We are aware of only one legal opinion on the possibility of alienating part of the Greyton Commonage – done by Hannes Pretorious Attorneys of Hermanus, as part of the Greyton Commonage Spatial Framework.

There is much confusion in this document, and therefore in the conclusions drawn and recommendation made, that makes one very suspicious of its validity. For example, there is no mention of any record of the removal of restrictions presumed to have been in the original Title Deeds for Greyton and the 2 farms mentioned, but ‘apparently’ missing from the deeds for the remainder of Erf 595. We consider that if there had been any intent to permit alienation of all or part of the commonage, contrary to Herbert Vigne’s Will, then some evidence would have been found.

Therefore, we submit that the onus must be on TWKM to prove beyond all doubt, that they can legally alienate any part of the Greyton commonage.

4.4 Conditions of tender

Although the following Conditions of tender imposed by TWKM are essential elements supporting the decision to go ahead with this project, it is considered that they cannot be enforced in law. If they are not fully complied with, they have no penalties or other forms of compensation attached and therefore are meaningless. The pertinent Conditions are that:

  • development of the land commences within 2 years of the date of registration of the property;
  • a minimum of 95 ha of land is developed with deciduous fruit trees;
  • a minimum of 150 work opportunities are created ;
  • 80% of the workers must be from the Greyton/Genadendal/Riviersonderend area;

Should any of the above conditions fall significantly short of expectations, assuming of course that accurate monitoring of the conditions could be achieved, it is contended that the benefits from the proposed project for the municipality and the surrounding communities will also not be achieved.

This would lead to an unnecessary waste of municipal funds and a reduction of economic and community value from the project, which would be contrary to the requirements of Section 14 of the Municipal Finance Management Act (Act 56 of 2003).

  1. Municipal Policy

Policies and guidelines, relevant to the Commonage, in municipal spatial planning frameworks since 1999, including the most recent SDF of 2012 are:

  • Conserve the natural resource base and its bio-diversity;
  • Promote sustainable economic development;
  • Ensure that the community have continued access for recreational purposes;
  • No subdivision or alienation of land is permitted;
  • The desirability of combining small scale farming activities in Greyton and Genadendal;
  • The introduction of farming activities in the Commonage;
  • The areas (dark green on the map) to be formally incorporated into the Greyton Nature Reserve in order to protect the ecological role of the Commonage within the context of the mountain catchment area, the river eco-systems and the Greyton Nature Reserve (in process).

The proposal to alienate a portion of Erf 595 is contrary to policies expressed in all the spatial planning framework documents since 1999.This is supported by the absence of any detailed management plan which must surely be a prerequisite to such an important change of policy as the alienation of the Commonage.

  1. Property Prices

Should the Commonage land be alienated, the attraction of Greyton as a tourist destination and a desirable place to live, will be diminished. The Heritage value may also be reduced. The result will be an inevitable lowering of property values.

TWKM will also undoubtedly conclude that they can freely alienate additional portions of the Commonage, further contributing to the decline of Greyton, and further reducing local property values, which would be contrary to the municipal policies for sustainable growth in Tourism.

  1. Environmental Impact not considered

Even though it was admitted that a significant part of the total project land value was not suitable for fruit farming (85 ha of total 235 ha), there is no commitment from the Consortium or condition in the prospectus either to clear and maintain the land free from alien vegetation particularly along the river corridor, or to identify and assess areas of land containing conservation-worthy Renosterveld. Both of these activities represent costs and potential future benefits that should be examined in the EIA, and any approval of the project may be conditional on satisfactory management of these activities.

There is no evidence that the financial implications of these environmental impacts have been considered in the valuation of the land.

  1. Municipal Support for Alienation

The TWKM prospectus focuses on the ‘sale of a portion of Erf 595 for BEE commercial farming’, but fails to contemplate the separation of the project into ‘alienation of the land’ and formation of a BEE venture ‘to promote investor friendly practices …… leading to increased employment and growth in rates base …’ It is argued that the BEE venture itself is not dependent on alienation of the land, and could indeed have more financial and social benefits through the alternative of a leasehold agreement instead.

The municipality fails to consider this argument in the prospectus. A special Ward 2 Committee meeting on 5 October 2015 records that ‘the committee noted and awaits the outcome of the project plan as presented’.

Clearly, neither document constitutes a vote of approval or agreement for the alienation of a portion of the Greyton Commonage.

Furthermore, TWKM failed to consider any alternatives to the proposed alienation, in particular a leasehold agreement.

CONCLUSION

We strongly object to the alienation of approximately 235 ha of a portion of Erf 595, being part of the Greyton Commonage, on the grounds stated above.

However, our objection only applies to the actual alienation itself, and not to the whole project. Therefore, if the project can be revised to accommodate a leasehold agreement, we offer our support conditional on a number of additional proposals in Part 2 that we believe would be beneficial to all the parties concerned.

Part 2 will be issued as a separate document.

PART 2: PROPOSALS FOR THE FRUIT FARMING PROJECT as per previous article.

We will keep you informed.

Should you want to be placed on the Ward 2 Forum Database please email us at the following address mygreyton@ward2forum.org

 

 

Ward 2 Forum Team

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Final Report and Recommendations on proposed Commonage Sell-off 2016-017

GREYTON COMMONAGE SELL-OFF [Report 7.3 of 7]

Herewith the last in the series of comments on the proposed alienation on the Portion of Erf 595 as envisaged by the Local Authority. What will follow hereafter is a Summary of the numerous comments as received from the Community in response to the articles as published by the W2F (Ward 2 Forum) team.

The full document as submitted to TWKM by the Ward 2 Forum Team will also be published for general information to the W2F database & on Social Media.

The following proposals are part of a larger concept that includes a considerable increase in the area of the Greyton Nature Reserve. The community of Farm 39 intends to register Bakenskop & potentially parts of Snyerskraalkoppe, to the West of Loerkop, as a Nature Reserve. This will eventually form part of the proposed Greyton/Genadendal Biosphere.

PROPOSALS FOR THE FRUIT FARMING PROJECT IN WARD 2

Click on the image for full size

screenshot_1943The grounds for objection to the alienation of portion of Erf 595, the Greyton Commonage, are considered a reasonable basis to allow the main parties concerned – TWKM, Consortium, and the Ward 2 community to contemplate an alternative outcome for this joint venture. W2F proposes that the Consortium, their labourers and Farm 39 (Genadendal) enters into a joint venture whereby:

  • A new company is formed with the above parties as shareholders. The shareholders’ contributions are illustrated in the accompanying graphic.
  • The major portion of the fruit farming, as envisaged, is not done on the proposed portion of Commonage, but on a 200ha portion of Farm 39, whilst a portion of the Commonage is retained for grazing, a biological corridor and current recreational activities. This arrangement will have much less impact on neighbouring Greyton and addresses most of the concerns noted from Greyton residents.
  • The Consortium leases a portion of the Commonage land for the farming of fruit, as envisaged;
  • TWKM retain ownership of the Greyton Commonage, and its intrinsic value, through a medium term leasehold arrangement for the land to be used;
  • Minimum infrastructure for the farm, no residential housing for workers;
  • Ward 2 acquires a new sustainable business, labour intensive, mostly local labour, who will have the added benefits of ownership through dividend-paying shares in the business;
  • Some of the Commonage to be managed for grazing, which could be improved by additional water availability from Farm 39;
  • Mutual agreement between the Consortium and Farm 39 for additional leased land and water rights for fruit farming on Farm 39, further ensuring employment of local labour;
  • The amenity value of most of the Commonage to be retained for the community (MTB biking, riding, walking etc);
  • Suitable remnant Renosterveld areas to be protected;
  • Facilitate & register a Biological corridor, connecting parts of the Nature Reserve and separating farmland from Greyton;
  • The areas Knietjieshoogte, Maermanskloof and Loerkop that were designated in 2000 and confirmed in the SDF (2012) to be formally incorporated into the Greyton Nature Reserve, and having recently been surveyed as such, must be proclaimed and finally gazetted by TWKM;
  • Clearance of Sonderend River of alien trees and protection of the river banks.
  • Energy-efficient tourism project along Sonderend River to be considered for the future;

The benefits for all the parties concerned are evident:

  • Seasonal labour problems are minimised;
  • Need for new housing and additional municipal services is minimised;
  • TWKM retains ownership of an asset of significantly higher value than the proposed sale price;
  • Additional opportunities for joint ventures between Farm 39 and the Consortium.
  • The aims and intent of the Government Commonage policy are met;
  • The Will of Herbert Vigne who created Greyton and its Commonage will be honoured;
  • Community approval is anticipated to be widespread;
  • Platform from which to launch similar projects throughout the Overberg.

This alternative is an intrinsic part of our objection to the original proposal and as such should be considered together with the objection. This is the preferred concept from Ward 2 Forum, which is subject to modification and agreement between all parties concerned. There could be significant changes resulting from the EIA and the public participation process, from input from TWKM, the Consortium and Breede-Gouritz Catchment Management Area and after detailed discussions with the Departments of Agriculture, Land Affairs & Water Affairs.

Should you wish submit an objection to the proposed Alienation of the Portion of Erf 595 by TWKM please note these have to be submitted to TWKM, by latest 31 March 2016:

Address your objection to:

 

The Municipal Manager (Stan Wallace)

Theewaterskloof Municipality,

6 Plein Street,

Caledon 7230.

 

The submission can be handed in at the Municipal office in Greyton (DS Botha Street) or via Email to stanwa@twk.org.za, please ensure that you CC the following when submitting via email:

Cc: records@twk.org.za

Cc: annettesw@twk.org.za

 

We will keep you informed.

Should you want to be placed on the Ward 2 Forum Database please email us at the following address mygreyton@ward2forum.org

 

 

Ward 2 Forum Team

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Report 2016-015 – Greyton Commonage Sell-off (7.2 of 7)

After discussions with the parties concerned, Ward 2 Forum considers that it is essential that TWKM is persuaded not to alienate part of Erf 595. Objection is based on legal, financial and social grounds. The proposed fruit farming project should be broadened to include additional features that should substantially increase the benefits for the Consortium, TWKM and the Ward 2 community.

As part of overall Social & Economic growth planned for the region, more emphasis needs to be placed on the longer term planning prior to any development taking place. We are of the view that sustainable economic and rural development cannot be left to the agricultural sector alone, as the participation of the private sector, business sectors and the community as a whole need to be part of the process going forward.

Whilst Agriculture is currently the biggest contributor to the regions GDP, other sectors such as Tourism need to step up to the plate as well. Agricultural growth will require infrastructural growth; currently the only viable route to “market” for the farms with their produce is through Greyton. With the huge expansion in fruit farming in our valley by existing fruit farms already in production and soon additional farms down the R406, will be come into production as well which will necessitate alternative transport routes to cater for the expected growth in traffic a by-pass may become vital for Greyton

It is with these critical issues that the Ward 2 Forum has engaged with all interested and affected parties to find workable solutions that would not hamper growth but rather sustain planned growth that would benefit all equally.

SUMMARY OF OBJECTION TO ALIENATION OF PART OF ERF 595, GREYTON

With reference to the Notice in the Theewaterskloof Gazette on 19 January 2016 for the proposed alienation of about 235 ha of Erf 595 in Greyton at R 4,329,850 an objection to the proposed alienation can be made on the following grounds:

  1. The price of the property:

It is considered that the price for this property has been hugely undervalued at R4.3 m, without any reasonable justification, and therefore does not comply with the requirements of Section 14 of the Municipal Finance Management Act (Act 56 of 2003).

The proposed price of R 0.02 m per ha is much lower than the rateable values (July 2014) of other vacant land in the Greyton Commonage (R 0.05 m – 0.08 m per ha). The rateable value of a further area (8,7 ha) of Greyton, although zoned for residential use, but also vacant and without any services, is R 0.33 per ha.

There is no evidence that the longer term future value of this land has even been considered.

  1. Public Participation Process:

We have been denied relevant information on Title deed restrictions, servitudes, Minutes of relevant Council meetings, which should have been supplied timeously for us to be able to scrutinise them properly.

This is contrary to Government legislation and the Constitution of South Africa, and has prevented the community from having access to information which may be relevant to the legality of the alienation.

  1. Compliance with Municipal Commonage policy and procedure (PC.Doc.12/1997):
  • There is no evidence that TWKM have consulted with the Dept of Land Affairs (DLA), to satisfy themselves that the proposed development will not result in the dispossession of people’s rights (formal or informal) granted on or over the Greyton Commonage.
  • Local people who have rights to graze cattle on the property have not been approached on the matter, and their situation has not been considered. No arrangements have been made for alternative land or financial compensation.
  • Where town development and urbanisation require Commonage to be sold, wide support from local residents must be obtained. There is not, and never has been, any municipal policy that proposes that this or any other portion of the Commonage is required for the development of Greyton.
  • The municipality may not alienate, dispose of or sell the Remainder of a Municipal Commonage property but must retain and utilise the said Remainder for public use, which is to ensure that such land is released to the needy local residents for agricultural purposes on a leasehold basis.

It is clear that the proposed alienation fails to comply with any of these policy statements.  

  1. Compliance with TWKM By-law:

According to the TWKM By-law, gazetted on 21 June 2015, municipal commonage means land owned by, or under control of, the municipality which has a zoning of ‘undetermined’ and which may be set aside for grazing or for such other purposes or use as may be deemed necessary by the municipality. There is no reference whatsoever to the possible sale or alienation of commonage land.

Clearly, the proposed alienation does not comply with the TWKM By-law.

  1. The Will of Herbert Vigne

It is absolutely clear that Herbert Vigne bequeathed the Commonage to the people of Greyton. Neither the Will, nor the intent, has ever been in dispute. It is considered that if there had been any intent to permit alienation of all or part of the Commonage, contrary to Herbert Vigne’s Will, then some evidence would have been found. No such evidence has been found.

There is no known record of the removal of restrictions presumed to have been in the original Title Deeds when the 2 farms Kanon Berg and Boschmanskloof were separated out of Erf 595 to create the Greyton Nature Reserve on 13 May 1977.

Therefore, we submit that the onus must be on TWKM to prove beyond all doubt, that they can legally alienate any part of the Greyton commonage.

  1. Conditions of Tender

The following Conditions of tender imposed by TWKM cannot be enforced in law. If they are not fully complied with then the benefits from the project cannot be achieved, and as there are no penalties or other forms of compensation attached, they are therefore meaningless. The pertinent Conditions are that:

  • development of the land starts within 2 years of registration of the property;
  • a minimum of 95 ha of land be developed with deciduous fruit trees;
  • a minimum of 150 work opportunities to be employed;
  • 80% of the workers must be from the Greyton/Genadendal/Riviersonderend area.

 

Failure to comply with the Conditions would lead to an unnecessary waste of municipal funds and a reduction of economic and community value from the project, which would be contrary to the requirements of Section 14 of the Municipal Finance Management Act (Act 56 of 2003).

  1. Municipal Policy

The proposal to alienate a portion of Erf 595 is contrary to all the spatial planning framework documents since 1999. Specific policies and guidelines that are relevant include:

  • Conserve the natural resource base and its bio-diversity;
  • Promote sustainable economic development;
  • Ensure that the community have continued access for recreation purposes;
  • No subdivision or alienation of land;
  • The desirability of combining small scale farming activities in Greyton and Genadendal;
  • The introduction of farming activities in the Commonage.

 

The absence of any policy that supports alienation of any portion of Erf 595 must be taken into account.

  1. Property Prices

Should our objections fail and the Commonage land is alienated, the attraction of Greyton as a tourist destination and a desirable place to live, will be diminished. The Heritage value may also be reduced. The result will be an inevitable lowering of property values.

TWKM will also undoubtedly conclude that they can freely alienate additional portions of the Commonage, further contributing to the decline of Greyton, which would be contrary to the municipal policies for sustainable growth in Tourism.

  1. Municipal Support for Alienation

The TWKM prospectus focuses on the ‘sale of a portion of Erf 595 for BEE commercial farming’, but fails to contemplate the separation of the project into ‘alienation of the land’ and formation of a BEE venture ‘to promote investor friendly practices …… leading to increased employment and growth in rates base …’ It is argued that the BEE venture itself is not dependent on alienation of the land, and could indeed have more associated benefits through a leasehold agreement instead.

The municipality fails to consider this argument in the prospectus. A special Ward 2 Committee meeting on 5 October 2015 records that ‘the committee noted and awaits the outcome of the project plan as presented’.

Clearly, neither document constitutes a vote of agreement for the alienation of a portion of the Greyton Commonage.

We will keep you informed.

Should you want to be placed on the Ward 2 Forum Database please email us at the following address mygreyton@ward2forum.org

 

 

Ward 2 Forum Team

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Vigne Legacy – Greyton Commonage Report 2016-015

Ward 2 Forum Information Document

We thank you for the tremendous support & encouragement received during this Commonage Campaign

During the research done by the Greyton Heritage Museum on Greyton and surrounds, some incredible information has been found, the information gathered has only proven that substantial more time and energy needs to be spent on further research. As part of this ongoing research, contact has been made with previous residents of the village and families of original inhabitants of the area, the objective is to piece together as much of the information so that a proper history of our valley can be collated.

In a bid to get the information into the public domain, The Ward 2 Forum in conjunction with the Greyton Heritage Museum will publish all information through the website and the social media platforms. It is envisaged that a manuscript will eventually be produced for the print media and eventual final publication.

The map hereto attached was produced in 1839 and has been amended from time to time as development on the Weltevreden Estate (now known as Erf 595) took place. Interesting to note the river names then, and the route of the Genadendal – Riviersonderend road (now R 406).

Below are some extracts of the original 1854 “Conditions of Sale” document that was made available to us by Keith Radmore (great grandson of Herbert Vigne).

 

Extracts from Conditions of Sale of Erven in the projected Village of “GREYTON”, situate on the Estate WELTEVREDEN, in the Division of Caledon, held on the 27th, and 28th days of November 1854.

 

  1. To the said extent of Morgen as hereinbefore mentioned, so set apart to form and constitute the said Village, the Seller attaches and cedes, as Town Common, the remainder of land of his Estate Bosjesmanskloof, which Estate is in whole extent 1,866½ Morgen, or 3,733 Acres, as will be seen by the original Diagram thereof, dated the 5th day of February 1839, which shall remain for ever inalienably appropriated as such Town Common exclusively …….
  2. The Pasturage on the said Town Common, shall be appropriated exclusively to the use of Proprietor of Erven, and the Occupants of Erven under the authority of Proprietors, and to the use of bona fide Travellers to and from the Village ……

We will keep you informed.

Should you want to be placed on the Ward 2 Forum Database please email us at the following address mygreyton@ward2forum.org

 

 

Ward 2 Forum Team

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Report 2016-014 – Greyton Commonage Sell-off (7.1 of 7)

screenshot_1925

For ease of reference and due to the length of the last report, we have subdivided 7 of 7 into 3 separate documents. Herewith the first of the 3 final sections.

There are 2 separate issues involved. Firstly, the question of whether any part of the Greyton Commonage should be sold, which would prevent TWKM or the community ever having any influence over future uses of the land. Secondly, there are alternative or additional uses for the Commonage, that are briefly discussed below.

ALTERNATIVES

Alienation of the 235 ha land area

Government policy only permits the alienation of municipal Commonage for development purposes that will not result in any loss of local people’s formal and informal rights, and where there is substantial evidence that the development enjoys the wide support of local residents.

Alternative to alienation

The only alternative to outright purchase of the land is a renewable lease, possibly reverting to municipal ownership after say 50 years. It is considered that the leasehold cost should reflect the actual land areas used for agricultural purposes, thus allowing possible additional uses in the areas not suitable for intensive agriculture, for example conservation, recreation, specific community projects and tourist-related uses. Such a compromise seems to represent the spirit of Government policy on Commonages, but at the same time encourages viable and sustainable business ventures such as specialised farming. Furthermore, the future asset value of the land is retained for the benefit of the municipality and the community.

Alternative agricultural projects:

  • Intensive fruit farming in the Overberg, particularly in the Riviersonderend river valley, has expanded significantly during recent years, largely for the export market. To be viable, it is said that 100-150 ha minimum are needed, water is essential (up to 6000 m³ per hectare per annum) and labour, some of which is seasonal, must be suitable for training and mentoring. The soil requirements have been assessed and confirmed by the Department of Agriculture to be suitable. Yet to be done is a detailed plan for the preferred areas to be cultivated and the layout of infrastructure and services.
  • The grazing of cattle as practised on the Commonage now, where the land is partially degraded and water is very limited, is only just viable, and needs only limited labour. However, intensive dairy farming is possible throughout this area on land transformed totally to grassland, with adequate water, but labour requirements are also limited.
  • Pomology farming which is the preferred use for a significant part of the project land is established in the area as a viable business, but there is limited suitable land available, and water rights are often not obtainable. Labour requirements, both permanent and seasonal, are significantly higher. The successful training and mentoring of local persons could obviate the common process of migrant labour, thus removing the necessity of providing housing and additional municipal services, in an area already with a high rate of unemployment and very limited services.
  • Honeybush harvesting based on existing areas of natural growth could assist the expansion of the existing small-scale business in Genadendal.
  • Fynbos farming may be an alternative for the future with lower water needs and a hotter climate.
  • Domestic firewood management using a community woodlot would ensure sufficient firewood available for the whole community.

 Other alternative activities:

  • Residential housing would probably not be viable because of the costs involved in providing full municipal services (maybe including tarring of part of the Riviersonderend road), the regular inundation and possible flash flooding from the Gobos and Sonderend rivers. Housing development would also not comply with municipal policy, and would be outside the urban edge.
  • Recreational activities could be considered in parts of the area not being farmed, including grazing for horses and donkeys, MTB biking, walking, horse riding, dog exercising, camping site, birding, picnics.
  • Tourism-related development might be considered for the longer term, particularly along the Sonderend River, possibly an energy-efficient, low density, high quality tourist lodge.

 Biological corridor

The establishment of a biological corridor from north to south would connect the different segments of nature reserve and help to ensure the long-term viability whilst also serving as a buffer zone & green lung between the proposed commonage agricultural development and the residential areas of Greyton village.

No-Go alternative Activities now in the proposed project area include some of the above recreations and some local small farmers use the land for grazing. Alien vegetation has been partly cleared. Mature wood has been harvested. There is at least one sand pit. With the exception of bike trails, the area is not used much by tourists.

We will keep you informed.

Should you want to be placed on the Ward 2 Forum Database please email us at the following address mygreyton@ward2forum.org

 

 

Ward 2 Forum Team

 

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Report 2016-013 – Greyton Commonage Sell-off (6 of 7)

Since 1999 there has been a consistent view on the possible future land uses for this part of Erf 595, which has been documented in various municipal planning reports.

SPATIAL PLANNING

The spatial development framework (SDF) is a fundamental part of longer term planning. It encourages consideration of potential spatial developments, and gives opportunities for open discussion between the community and the municipality.

The Greyton Commonage Spatial Framework Plan was compiled during 1999-2000 and contains broad guidelines and conservation/development proposals for the future use of the Commonage. The document shows that a broad public participation process was followed.

The following general goals were identified:

  • Conserve the natural resource base and its bio-diversity;
  • Protect and enhance Greyton’s rural/country character;
  • Consider agricultural small holdings in area 6;
  • Promote sustainable economic development, especially tourism.

Policies and strategies for planning areas 4 and 5:

  • Assess opportunities for low intensity recreational use;
  • Ensure that the community have continued access for recreational purposes;
  • Rezone to Open Space III (LUPO), where the only use is Nature Reserve, as buffer zones;
  • No agriculture, except harvesting of natural resources;
  • No mining, quarrying, waste disposal facilities, public infrastructure;
  • No subdivision or alienation of land.

Policies and management guidelines for planning area 6:

  • Low intensity land uses only – agriculture, recreation and tourism;
  • Structures/buildings to conform strictly with architectural and aesthetic guidelines;
  • Flood line investigation necessary;
  • Detailed agricultural investigation before any development permitted.

SDF (2003-2005)

Policy was restated that no portion of publically owned agricultural land should be sold, or leased for more than 10 years (renewable). Two relevant Integrated Development Plan (IDP) projects were identified for investigation:

  • The desirability of combining small scale farming activities in Greyton and Genadendal;
  • The introduction of farming activities in the Commonage.

The Commonage Program that is controlled by the Dept of Land Affairs is responsible for assisting municipalities to develop conditions that enable poor residents to access existing Commonage. Clearly TWKM, in proposing to sell off a significant part of our Commonage having no plan to manage it or to consult the community in regard to appropriate and sustainable land uses and activities. There are grants available and training to assist small-scale farmers.

SDF (2012)

The policies and guidelines above were confirmed in the SDF (2012). It was also proposed that the areas (dark green on the map) be formally incorporated into the Greyton Nature Reserve in order to protect the ecological role of the Commonage within the context of the mountain catchment area, the river eco-systems and the Nature Reserve.

CURRENT SITUATION

Agriculture was considered a potential land use for the proposed project in 1999-2000, subject to confirmation of adequate soil quality. During the last 15 years, fruit farming has expanded significantly, not least in the Sonderend river valley. The northern adjacent property is part of Zand Vlakte (Farm 136) an intensive dairy farm that has been totally transformed to grassland and crops.

We consider there is strong support for a mix of land uses in this area of the Commonage that would bring significant benefits to the communities of Ward 2 whilst also meeting the requirements of government policy and the expectations of Greyton residents.

We will keep you informed.

Should you want to be placed on the Ward 2 Forum Database please email us at the following address mygreyton@ward2forum.org

Ward 2 Forum Team

 

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Report 2016-012 – Greyton Commonage Sell-off (5 of 7)

This article attempts to assess the value of the part of the Greyton Commonage that TWKM intends to sell. The prospectus says that no municipal general valuation could be obtained, and confirms that a fair market valuation must be used. The benefits to each party involved are outlined.

PROJECT VALUATION

RATEABLE VALUES AND PROJECT COST

The valuation of R 4,329,850 is stated to be the ‘market-related price’. This was said at the open meeting on 3 March’16 and will be ring-fenced. The valuation of such a large area (235 ha) seems to be grossly under-estimated.

The Valuation roll of July 2014 has an entry for Erf 595 of R 8.34 m, although the Erf area is only shown as 14.2 ha (data for previous years shows similar figures). The area is obviously incorrect, but is the value thus also incorrect?

Other property valuations (July 2014) Per hectare
Large plot inside Greyton’s urban edge, vacant, with no services R 3.5 m
House on large plot in Greyton R 1.6 – 4.6 m
Vacant erven (3) in Commonage5,0 – 8,5 ha, no services R 0.05 – 0.08 m
Erf 530 (8,7 ha) vacant, zoned residential, no services R 0.33 m
PROPOSED COST of part of Erf 595 (235 ha), vacant, no services, with access R 0.019 m

 

This valuation must be challenged.

BENEFITS FOR TWK MUNICIPALITY

The prospectus implies that municipal rates will be R 0.25 m per annum, based on the value of the farm. However, until the farm becomes fully operational, the rateable value will be nearer to the purchase price, producing under R 9000 rates per annum. The initial cost should therefore reflect this long term value, rather than the arbitrary value agreed by TWKM. The alienation would also remove any responsibility for TWKM to formulate any plan for the management of the land.

It has been assumed that all bulk services will be funded by the purchaser. This is not actually stated in the prospectus, and in any case has not been detailed.

Although TWKM state that they will benefit from the service charges, this may not be the case because some services, for example potable water, are already inadequate and will require considerable capital investment to provide in the future.

MINIMAL BENEFITS FOR WARD 2

The project as it is will certainly provide some business opportunities for Ward 2, but they would seem to be marginal, although any sustainable employment has to be a benefit. There is unlikely to be any positive effect on Tourism; if the traffic impact, dust and noise become significant, the effect will be harmful.

The TWKM prospectus claims that a capital investment of approximately R 80 m will be required to develop a viable business. There is no breakdown of this figure to indicate how much expenditure will be on land clearance and preparation, buildings and infrastructure, and equipment. Expectations of significant local business expenditure are not considered to be realistic.

LOSS OF BENEFITS FOR GREYTON

Development of this project will not benefit Greyton, other than by some additional albeit unquantifiable local employment. There will be environmental impacts, the permanent loss of some natural vegetation, the permanent loss of grazing land for small farmers, the loss of amenity value for those who bike, walk, ride horses, collect firewood etc. Intense agricultural activities will be much closer than before to the residential areas of Greyton.

BENEFITS FOR PROSPECTIVE CONSORTIUM

  • Acquisition of additional farmland at a very low cost;
  • Financially viable and sustainable business venture;
  • Additional BBBEE points score for all the participating farmers;

 

Please note that this series of articles is aimed at giving an unbiased view, based on the points of view expressed by all the relevant parties and the collection of information related to the alienation of the Greyton Commonage. The series will culminate in a final document that will incorporate a full & comprehensive proposal that should address the expectations of all involved but with the prime objective of ensuring we as a community foster Rural Development in a viable and sustainable manner that would benefit all.

We will keep you informed.

Should you want to be placed on the Ward 2 Forum Database please email us at the following address mygreyton@ward2forum.org

 

 

Ward 2 Forum Team

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Report 2016-011 – Greyton Commonage Sell-off (4 of 7)

Is alienation of the Greyton Commonage legal and is it necessary? This question is central to the proposal for a fruit farm in Greyton.

THE COMMONAGE BELONGS TO THE COMMUNITY

It is absolutely clear that Herbert Vigne bequeathed the Commonage to the people of Greyton. Neither the Will, nor the intent, has ever been in dispute.

According to the TWKM By-law, which was gazetted on 21 June 2015, municipal commonage means land owned by, or under control of, the municipality which has a zoning of “undetermined” and which may be set aside for grazing or for such other purposes or use as may be deemed necessary by the municipality. There is no reference whatsoever to the possible sale or alienation of commonage land.

The Minister of Land Affairs approved the municipal commonage policy on 12 June 1997, emphasising the fact that municipal commonage is land, which has a public character, and that land needed by local poor residents for agricultural purposes should be made available on a leasehold basis for such purposes.

Whatever may have actually happened to cast doubt on the validity of the above policy in relation to Greyton’s commonage is shrouded in mystery. We are aware of only one legal opinion on the possibility of alienating part of the Greyton Commonage – done by Hannes Pretorious Attorneys of Hermanus, as part of the Greyton Commonage Spatial Framework Plan. It is in Afrikaans, dated 22 November 1999 – prior to the creation of TWKM. Salient features of the document, translated, are:

  1. The document was not translated into English which is the language of the rest of the Framework Plan;
  2. No mention is made of the legality of Herbert Vigne’s Will bequeathing the Commonage to the people of Greyton;
  3. The farms Kanonberg and Boschmanskloof were registered under Act 15 of 1887 in the name of the Greyton municipality, and which has subsequently became the Greyton Nature Reserve;
  4. Restrictive conditions have been removed from the Transfer Title Deed for Erf 595 (Commonage and Nature Reserve together);
  5. In respect of the remaining portion of Erf 595, there appears to be no restrictions on transfer of the land;

There is much confusion in this document, and therefore in the conclusions drawn and recommendation made, that makes one very suspicious of its validity. For example, there is no mention of any record of the removal of restrictions presumed to have been in the original Title Deeds for Greyton and the 2 farms mentioned, but ‘apparently’ missing from the deeds for the remainder of Erf 595.

We consider that if there had been any intent to permit alienation of all or part of the commonage, contrary to Herbert Vigne’s Will, then some evidence would have been found.

Therefore, we submit that the onus must be on TWKM to prove beyond all doubt, to the satisfaction of the community, that they can legally alienate any part of the Greyton commonage.

SUMMARY OF GOVERNMENT POLICY

PC.Doc.12/1997 Municipal Commonage: policy and procedure is relevant.

Where a portion of the properties, formerly known as Municipal Commonages, is to be utilised for development, the municipality must, in consultation with the Dept of Land Affairs (DLA), satisfy themselves beforehand that such development will not result in the dispossession of people’s rights (formal or informal) granted on or over such commonage land. In the event that people’s rights are affected, it is a prerequisite that other arrangements satisfactory to those people have been made.

Furthermore, the municipality may not alienate, dispose or sell the Remainder of such a Municipal Commonage property but must retain and utilise the said Remainder for public use, which is to ensure that such land is released to the needy local poor residents for agricultural purposes on a leasehold basis that fosterers and facilitates Rural Development.

The DLA will also actively discourage the selling of commonage, except where this is clearly required for town development and urbanisation which enjoys the wide support of local residents.

 

THE ARGUMENT

The reasons for distinguishing ‘Commonage’ land from other municipal land clearly relate to the actual or proposed use of the land – for needy local people. The primary uses of the Greyton Commonage have been the grazing of farm animals and recreational activities. Should this property be alienated then the existing rights of the local people would be removed.

It is pointed out that alternative BBBEE projects for fruit farming could be considered for the same area of land, but on a leasehold basis. Any decision must take into account the dominant and widespread view of the community. The future amenity value of this area of land, if alienated, will be lost to the community and the municipality will have given away a financial asset of significant value, far exceeding the proposed ‘give away’ price.

CONCLUSION

The proposed project should be reconsidered on the basis of the sustainable long term interests of the Ward 2 community and the municipality.

We will keep you informed.

Should you want to be placed on the Ward 2 Forum Information Database please complete the online form to the right of this post.

Ward 2 Forum Team

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail