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Saturday, April 19, 2014

Zoning leaves it up to Legislature to identify site for adult business park

The Zoning Office has identified the Old Samoan Housing in Garapan, the old dumpsite in Puerto Rico, and the former La Fiesta Mall in San Roque as possible sites for the CNMI’s Adult Business Park.

According to Zoning administrator Therese Ogumoro, these sites are mostly owned by the government and are just among the areas initially identified by the agency for the Adult Business Park.

Zoning board members, however, later agreed to give the Legislature the decision to choose the best option for the park.

Saipan Tribune learned that the Zoning Office has 120 days to come up with a recommendation on which site is best suitable for designation as an adult business park. This is based on Saipan Local Law 18-6 signed in October, which removed the adult overlay businesses in Chalan Pale Arnold and authorized the Legislature to seek recommendation from the Zoning Office for a new location.

Ogumoro pointed out during Friday’s board meeting that the deadline to submit a recommendation to the Legislature is fast approaching, with the agency now on its 70th day. Without a properly designated site, this prevents the issuance of permits to any investor who may want build such businesses on island, she said.

“This is a very initial presentation that the board needs to know. Because of the passage of SLL 18-06, Zoning is not authorized to designate [the site for the business park] but we can recommend to the [Saipan Northern Islands Legislative Delegation], which gave us 120 days to do so,” explained Ogumoro.

Ogumoro said the Old Samoan Housing site, which is located between Orchid Streets and the ABC Building in Garapan, is one option. She disclosed that the site is Department of Public Lands property, isolated from residential dwellings, located at the center of the shopping district, has easy access to pedestrian paths, and is adjacent to the tourist market.

One thing that may derail this plan is the possible designation of the area as a historical site, she said.

She also identified the site of the former Puerto Rico dumpsite as DPL property. Like the first choice, Ogumoro said this site is isolated from residential villages, utilities are available, is located near the port area, has direct access to a pedestrian path, and is adjacent to tourist markets.

“This is also still up on the air as I heard that the said area is also being eyed for a children’s park,” said Ogumoro. The site may also be included in the military retention plan as agreed in the Covenant between the CNMI and the U.S. government.

Zoning board chair Diego Blanco, however, sees no urgency to create an adult business park at this time and raised concerns over what is covered by “adult businesses.”

“Is there really any urgency to create an adult business park?” asked Blanco, who expressed unwillingness to recommend to the Legislature a specific site for the park.

He pointed out that the Zoning Office already had the authority to designate such a place but this was taken out by the Legislature with the signing of SLL 18-06.

“We already did recommend…and they removed it. So with all due respect, we just leave it up to the Legislature to decide,” said Blanco.

According to Ogumoro, Zoning has about 10 sites identified as potential sites for the ABP but only three were presented to the board Friday.

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