Stop Pine Forest Evictions
FROM CERES BUSINESS AND RESIDENTS PERSPECTIVE
CERES PINE FOREST/DENNEBOS SEMI-PERMANENT RESIDENTS:
TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN,
THIS LETTER SERVES TO NOTIFY YOU, THE CERES COMMUNITY AND BUSINESSES OF THE FOLLOWING:
DURING AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2011, APPROXIMATELY R300,000 OF MUNICIPAL FUNDS WAS USED TO CONDUCT A FEASIBILITY STUDY OF THE CURRENT SITUATION OF PINE FOREST/DENNEBOS AND A SO-CALLED PUBLIC PRIVATE PARTNERSHIP. THE REASON GIVEN IN THE FEASIBILITY STUDY WAS THAT THE MUNICIPALITY IS NOT CAPABLE OF RUNNING DENNEBOS EFFECTIVELY DUE TO THE INADEQUACIES AND LACK OF MANAGEMENT AND SUPERVISORY SKILLS.
THE WITZENBERG MUNICIPALITY, TOGETHER WITH COUNCIL, CONCLUDED IN A MEETING DURING FEBRUARY/MARCH 2012 THAT THEY ARE PROCEEDING WITH THE PUBLIC PRIVATE PARTNERSHIP.
AS OF THE 28TH MARCH 2012 SEMI-PERMANENT RESIDENTS OF DENNEBOS STARTED RECEIVING NOTICES OF TERMINATION OF THEIR LEASE AGREEMENTS. APPROX 280 RESIDENTS STAND TO BE EVICTED AND LOSE THEIR HOMES IN DENNEBOS AS THE MUNICIPALITY IS NOT WILLING TO COMPENSATE THESE HOME OWNERS FOR THEIR DWELLINGS, MOST OF WHICH ARE CURRENTLY VALUED AT BETWEEN R150,000 AND R300,000.
THE RESIDENTS WILL EITHER UNANIMOUSLY DECONSTRUCT THEIR WOODEN/LOG CABINS AND REMOVE THEIR CARAVANS AND STRUCTURES, ETC. LEAVING THE DENNEBOS ALMOST VACANT; OR THE MUNICIPALITY WILL EXPECT THESE HOME OWNERS TO LEAVE THEIR PROPERTY WITHOUT ANY COMPENSATION SO THAT THE MUNICIPALITY CAN RENT THESE PROPERTIES OUT TO PRIVATE PARTIES AND THEREBY BENEFIT FINANCIALLY .
HOW DOES THIS AFFECT YOU, THE CERES BUSINESS AND RESIDENTIAL COMMUNITY?
THE PINE FOREST WILL BE RENDERED NEAR OBSOLETE, AS UP TO 80 % OF THE PARK WILL BE ABANDONED AND VACANT PROPERTY.
THERE WILL NO LONGER BE ENOUGH SUITABLE ACCOMMODATION TO ENTICE TOURISTS TO THE AREA AS THE MUNICIPAL BUNGALOWS ARE IN A SERIOUS STATE OF DIS-REPAIR.
THE VACANT LAND COULD ENTICE HOMELESS PEOPLE AND VAGRANTS TO SQUAT ON THIS LAND AND SURROUNDING RESIDENTIAL PROPERTIES MAY BE AT RISK WITH SAFETY AND SECURITY.
THE LOCAL RESIDENTIAL AND COMMERCIAL PROPERTY WILL DECREASE DRAMATICALLY IN VALUE AS FEWER PEOPLE WILL VISIT THE CERES AREA.
LOCAL BUSINESSES WILL SUFFER LOSS OF REVENUE TO THE TUNE OF APPROX. R8,000,000 TO R10,000,000 PER ANNUM, AS A CONSERVATIVE ESTIMATE.
LOCAL RESIDENTS THAT ARE CURRENTLY EMPLOYED TO PAINT AND VARNISH OUR HOMES, HELP CLEAN OUR GARDENS, CLEAN OUR WINDOWS, ROOFS, INTERIORS, ETC. WILL NOW FACE UNEMPLOYMENT.
YOUR LOCAL WOOD GUY, NIKLAAS, WILL NO LONGER HAVE THE OPTION OF SUPPLYING US WITH BRAAI WOOD FOR OUR BRAAI’S ETC. HE WILL MOST PROBABLY HAVE TO CLOSE HIS BUSINESS.
SOME OF THE BUSINESSES THAT WILL BE DIRECTLY AFFECTED ARE AS FOLLOWS:
MILL AND OAKS
CERES ZIP-LINE ADVENTURES
ALL LOCAL CAFÉS
ALL PETROL STATIONS (ENGEN, SHELL, ETC)
SPAR TOPS BOTTLE STORE
FISH AND CHIP SHOPS
ALL LOCAL DOCTORS AND OPTOMETRISTS
VODACOM AND MTN
PICK ‘N PAY
PICK ’N PAY BOTTLE STORE
ALL NOVELTY SHOPS
REIDS BOTTLE STORE
ALL WINE FARMS
ALL FRUIT FARMS
KLONDYKE CHERRY FARM
THIS IS TO NAME BUT A FEW OF THE BUSINESSES THAT WILL DEFINITELY BE AFFECTED IF THE MUNICIPALITY PROCEEDS WITH ITS ‘COWBOY TACTICS’ AND THE PUBLIC PRIVATE PARTNERSHIP.
WE AS THE PINE FOREST/DENNEBOS SEMI-PERMANENT RESIDENTS ARE OF THE OPINION THAT VERY LITTLE TIME WAS SPENT ON CONSIDERING THE IMPACT TO THE LOCAL RESIDENTS AND BUSINESS COMMUNITIES WHEN THESE DECISIONS WERE MADE AND WILL THEREFORE NEGATIVELY AFFECT ALL PARTIES CONCERNED.
WE VISIT YOUR AREA CONSTANTLY AND HEREBY STIMULATE BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT AND YOUR INCOME-STREAM, WHICH HAS POSITIVE SPIN-OFFS TO YOUR COMMUNITY.
WE LOVE THE CERES “GEES” AND CONTINOUSLY ENCOURAGE FAMILY AND FRIENDS TO VISIT THIS AREA AS IT HAS SO MUCH TO OFFER. WE EVEN MAKE THE EFFORT, AND TAKE THE TIME TO SHOW THEM AROUND, AND TO ENTICE THEM TO SPEND MONEY WITHIN THE CERES COMMUNITY.
WHY ON EARTH WOULD YOU DECIDE TO GET RID OF THE SAME PEOPLE THAT HELPED DEVELOP YOUR COMMUN ITY OVER MANY LONG HAPPY YEARS.
ALTHOUGH WE VISIT CERES, WE FEEL THAT WE ARE PART OF YOUR HAPPY FAMILY AND WOULD LIKE TO REMAIN IN YOUR FAMILY THROUGH ALL THE GOOD TIMES AND SOMETIMES THE NOT-SO-GOOD TIMES.
IT’S TIME FOR US TO STAND TOGETHER AND SHOW THAT ‘BLOOD IS IN FACT THICKER THAN WATER’.
WE HEREWITH PLEAD FOR YOUR HELP BY REQUESTING YOU TO SIGN THE ATTACHED PETITION FOR US TO STAY IN YOUR FAMILY AND NOT TO BE “BOOTED OUT” BY MUNICIPAL OFFICIALS THAT ARE INCAPABLE OF MANAGING THEIR DEPARTMENTS EFFECTIVELY.
FROM THE SEMI PERMANENT RESIDENTS PERSPECTIVE
Pine Forest Resort was established after the earthquakes in 1969 and was used for temporary housing for affected people of the town.
After all people were moved back to permanent houses, it was run as holiday resort. People were later allowed to build small wooden structures (Little bigger that their caravans) after permanent site allocations were made. During the years the rules changed and ALL alterations made had to be approved by council.
Half the resort was not occupied and tenants were offered plots, if they build structures on them, which they did.
The resort was popular and had good occupancy rates through the years. Maintenance was done, but very little enhancements were made. In 2000, resort management made suggestions to council for maintenance and enhancements (Which means they got free what they now paid R282 000 for), which was approved, but due to financial constraints were then stopped and only emergency expenditure was allowed.
Resort management and the Semi Permanent Home Owners had a good relationship at that time and all these suggestions were discussed and agreed upon. Since then it has been going downhill as funding for regular maintenance was not approved, causing buildings to become dilapidated. Every year the Semi Permanent Residents paid their annual levies, in spite of a decline in service levels.
According to the PPP feasibility study published by Witzenberg Municipality, an occupancy rate of 19% is achieved in the resort (for chalets belonging to the council). This comes as no surprise as half the chalets cannot be rented out due to the state they are in (No maintenance by Municipality). Basic needs like beds, fridges and stoves are not available and as such the chalets cannot be rented out.
The Semi Permanent Residents had a meeting in January where all concerns were raised and documented. This was handed to representatives of the Witzenberg Municipality at a meeting on 6 January 2012. One of the requests we had, was to be kept informed as to the progress.
All of a sudden, on 29 March 2012, couriers were knocking on Semi Permanent Residents doors handing them termination of lease notifications (Effective 30 June 2012). These notifications had to be served to them BEFORE 31 March 2012, or the lease contract would be renewed automatically. Problem is that a lot of residents were not informed.
It is stated that residents are allowed to remove their caravans, tents and wooden structures, but no permanent fittings. Some people purchased the structures late 2011 (Paying R160 000 plus) and even used their bond facilities to do so. Council knew they were looking at redeveloping the property (Using Public Private Partnership), but did not inform anybody. Approval was given to some tenants to do major alterations to their structures October / November 2011 (Total cost R300 000).
Bottomline: The “Wooden Structures” referred to by Mr Esau are not little Wendy Houses, they were custom built on the site. Some structures were not even built out of wood, but Nu Tec modern materials to combat the heat in summer and cold in winter. It is not out of the ordinary to speak to the residents and hear them talk about spending R300 000 plus on the properties.
IF ANY OF THE RESIDENTS KNEW THAT THEIR LEASE COULD BE TERMINATED, THEY WOULD NOT SPEND MONEY (using bonds) on their properties. Staff of the resort even referred to “99 year leases”.
Even if you can remove the structure, the foundation and concrete slab floor cannot be removed, SO EFFCTIVELY YOU LEAVE WITH NOTHING. The municipality was offered the opportunity to negotiate new levies with the residents, which they never did.
We feel that it is infringing on the rights of the Semi Permanent Residents to terminate leases. This boils down to renting a property to somebody for R100 a month and to then evict him because somebody else is offering to pay R200 per month.
By signing this petition you agree that it is UNJUST AND AN INFRINGEMENT ON THE RIGHTS OF CITIZENS, who stand to lose ±R35 000 000 (Rough conservative estimate) collectively.
By signing this agreement you agree that the leases should NOT BE TERMINATED.
Pine Forest Residents Contact the author of the petition