13 April 2017 Read: 1109
A new lodge and events venue has popped up in the Lushof area just outside Tzaneen and it is causing existing residents in that area sleepless nights. Reports of loud parties and a tremendous amount of traffic to and from the SIMA Silver Lodge situated just off the R71, have streamed in since it opened its doors on the 1st of October 2016.
Property owners around the lodge are concerned that the new lodge is operating illegally and that the noise pollution stemming from it will result in the devaluation of the neighbouring properties. Some home owners have said that the noise level is so high that they struggle to have a conversation in their homes more than a kilometre away.
“We have had no rest since they opened. Loud parties start at noon on a Friday and continue straight through to Sunday morning. No notice is ever circulated of planned events and the number of cars that frequent the lodge add to the disturbance as the patrons often play their own loud music from the vehicles while they dance and drink in the road outside!”
The operations of the SIMA Silver Lodge in the Lushof area are allegedly in contravention of the spatial planning and land use management by-laws of the Greater Tzaneen Municipality which were Gazetted on 29 July 2016.
According to information received from numerous sources including the office of the GTM town planner, Mr Mgama Mathye, the application by Sam Simata, (the owner of the lodge) to have the agricultural land he purchased in 2010, rezoned for commercial use has not yet been approved.
“The promulgation of the rezoning is pending the outcome of an Environmental Impact Assessment which is currently still underway,” Mathye said on Tuesday. “The application was lodged and advertised around two years ago.”
Bulletin received a copy of the most recent town planning scheme which clearly indicates that the remainder of Portion 28 of the farm Lushof 540 LT (upon which the lodge conducts business) is zoned as agricultural land.
By law, one is not permitted to operate a business on land not zoned for commercial use. A land owner may apply for the rezoning of land in order to conduct business on the premises, but that process is a lengthy one which includes various elements that have to be adhered to and approved. Of those procedures, an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) has to be conducted to determine the impact of the new business on its immediate surroundings.
Prior to that study, a public participation process needs to be tabled which enables neighbours to the property in question to lodge their objections to the proposed new rezoning. According to Maythye such a process was advertised in the local media two years ago and the GTM received no complaints.
Mr Simata allegedly acquired the property in 2010 and it was earmarked as a venue for the 2010 Soccer World Cup. The land was never developed and stood vacant until recently when the lodge opened for business. He is also the owner of the construction company, Simata Homes, in Tzaneen.
A number of high-level municipal officials are reported to frequent the establishment regularly. The GTM Engineering Services department held their year-end function here too. No comment has been issued on this matter by the spokesperson of the GTM.
Bulletin was unable to speak to Mr Simata after several attempts to contact him on his mobile phone or office number were unsuccessful.