Jumping the zone gun

Northdale businessman Nirvan Maharaj could be forced to reconsider his restaurant development after Msunduzi confirmed that the property still had to be rezoned.

The development, which is under construction, first came into the spotlight when some residents accused Maharaj of wanting to open a sheeben in a residential area.

One of the neighbours, Mahomed Ali, said they objected to the establishment’s application for a liquor licence and the rezoning of the property from residential to business.

A petition with more than 1 200 signatures was submitted as part of the objections against the liquor licence, but they were dismissed.

Two people objected to the rezoning application, but those objections were dismissed as well.

The property was rezoned to business in December but one of the objectors has since appealed the decision. The other waived his right to appeal.

Ali has also accused Maharaj of starting work on the site before the City has ruled on the appeals against the rezoning.

He said he is not against Maharaj opening another form of business but fears there would be a lot of noise and possibly an increase in crime because the restaurant would sell liquor.

“We already have too many places selling liquor in this area, we don’t need another one.

“I have rights as a resident and this development is going to block my bedroom so it won’t get any sunlight,” he said.

Maharaj, who bought the property in 2016, rejected the allegations, saying he planned on opening a family restaurant on the first floor and renting out four of the shops on the ground floor.

Maharaj confirmed that the property was rezoned in December. He said he was also disputing the identity of the appellant as attempts to establish who he is and where he lives have proved futile.

He said he submitted the building plans for approval in January after the rezoning application had been granted.

Msunduzi spokesperson Thobeka Mafumbatha said the site is still zoned as “special residential”.

She said it can be rezoned to “general business” once the appeal authority, which is the executive committee, has finalised the appeal and the applicant has complied with any other conditions.

“According to the applicant, he indicated that he served notices to all abutting neighbours, which is being disputed by those neighbours.

“Yes, the building plans have been submitted but they cannot be approved by town planning until the appeal authority has finalised the appeal and there is compliance,” she said.