The Commonwealth Zoning Board has agreed to postpone its decision on a conditional use permit application that would allow a company to operate a synthetic skating rink on island.
The board approved during its meeting and public hearing Thursday to delay the decision on the application of EY Corporation, which seeks to operate a skating facility, classified as outdoor amusement, on a public land located next to the basketball court across the House of Justice and north of Saipan World Resort along Beach Road in Susupe. The area is zoned as public resource.
Present at the meeting were board chair Diego Blanco, secretary Gus Kaipat, members Mable Ayuyu and Bruce Bateman, board counsel Teresita Sablan, Zoning Office staff, and office counsel Kate Fuller. Board vice chair Herman Sablan and treasurer Alice Igitol were both off-island.
Zoning administrator Therese T. Ogumoro said in an interview Friday that the board voted in favor of the Zoning Office's recommendation to postpone the decision on the matter until such time that government agencies with jurisdiction over the proposed project such as the Historic Preservation Office and the Commonwealth Council for Arts and Culture are invited to a public hearing.
Both agencies are under the Department of Community and Cultural Affairs.
Ogumoro said that EY Corporation owner Tolkach Evgenii, interpreter Tatiana Ilmova, and representative Mustafa Shakir presented their site development plan and other details pertaining to the proposed skating rink.
According to Ogumoro, the applicant was attracted to the proposed site because of the “openness” of the surrounding area and its proximity to the beach.
She said the applicant checked other possible sites for the project and found the American Memorial Park grounds but discovered that they could not afford the expensive fees.
Ogumoro said the applicant did research work on the project and their proposed site, and concluded that it is feasible and safe.
A supporter of the project, businessman Ivan Ilmov, noted that he sought feedback from his teacher friends and their students on what they think about having a skating rink on island and the idea received overwhelming support.
Kaipat and Bateman raised concerns on the proposed site, saying that area has been used for years as a venue for cultural activities such as the Flame Tree Arts Festival and that the project would prevent others from using the land.
Richard and Liana Hofschneider, who both attended Thursday's hearing, expressed support for the project, which they described as a good innovation. However, they are opposed to the proposed site given its historical value.
The Hofschneiders, Ogumoro said, noted that older generations are sentimental about the area as they believe it to be an ancient Chamorro burial site and to build a skating rink on top of it would be disrespectful. They asked the applicant to look for another site.
Ogumoro told Saipan Tribune that the Zoning Office will work on inviting concerned government agencies once they confirm the schedule of public hearing, eyed on the first week of February to accommodate the publication of the notice of hearing.