With the controversial installation of power poles in Marpi now rendered moot by a partial settlement agreement, only two issues remain in the lawsuit filed by the group Friends of Marpi against the CNMI government.
Friends of Marpi counsel David G. Banes told Saipan Tribune yesterday that their lawsuit alleged that the CNMI government breached its legal duty in three ways: failing to legally install the power poles, failing to properly fund and staff the Historical Preservation Office, and failing to have a legally required land use plan.
“Removing the poles solves the first issue but not the other two. So those two other issues will remain,” said Banes in an email.
In a joint statement on Monday, Banes and government lawyer Charles Brasington disclosed that the government and Friends of Marpi have reached a partial settlement agreement.
The lawyers said under the settlement deal, the government will take down the power poles in the Marpi area from the Buddhist temple to the Veterans Cemetery along Chalan Pale Arnold Road.
Once completed, the lawyers said, Friends of Marpi will drop its lawsuit related to the disputed power poles.
The 43 power poles are part of a $2.9-million project to supply power to the Marpi public cemetery and the CNMI Veterans Cemetery.
With only two more power poles reportedly needed to be installed to complete the project, Friends of Marpi led by Tina Sablan filed the lawsuit in early 2011.
In May 2011, Superior Court Associate Judge Kenneth L. Govendo issued orders that granted Friends of Marpi’s preliminary injunction that suspended the power poles project for 90 days. The government then appealed.