IN A FIRST IN CNMI HISTORY
The Department of Public Lands announced yesterday that applications for agricultural homesteads on the island of Pagan are now available—the first time in CNMI history that agricultural homestead lots on Pagan are available for distribution.
There are a total of 88 agricultural homestead lots for distribution, consisting of 5,000 square meters each lot.
“This marks a historic step for DPL and for our community, as we are now giving residents the opportunity to own agricultural homestead lots on Pagan,” said Gov. Ralph DLG Torres.
He praised DPL and its Homestead Division “for finally pushing this dream of many of our residents into realities.
“We look forward to the issuance date and seeing residents return to their ancestral lands,” he added.
“This is a long time coming,” said Lt. Gov. Arnold I. Palacios.
He said this will create the opportunity for Northern Island residents currently living on Saipan to resettle Pagan.
“We will continue to monitor the implementation of this policy, so that we can get lots up there as soon as we can,” said Palacios.
Acting Public Lands secretary Marianne Concepcion-Teregeyo said that DPL is making plans to schedule the distribution date for April after receiving applications.
DPL surveyors under the Planning Division went to Pagan in 2017 to conduct a survey and to install monuments on each of the available lots. After the survey, the lots were parceled, which totaled to 88 agricultural homestead lots.
“DPL is very excited to issue out these agricultural homestead lots,” said Concepcion-Teregeyo
The next goal is to issue village homestead lots, she added.
DPL created a task force in 2016 to determine the possibility of issuing village homestead lots on Pagan. At that time, DPL met with the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp., Department of Public Safety, Department of Fire and Emergency Medical Services, Public School System, Commonwealth Utilities Corp., Bureau of Environmental and Coastal Quality, and the Northern Islands Mayor’s Office.
That meeting brought up the realization that DPL could not proceed with the village homestead lots within the targeted time frame because of the absence of infrastructure, absence of a hospital, clinic or dispensary, absence of a school system, and the absence of DPS and DFEMS on Pagan.
The requirements for agricultural homesteads are less rigorous, as it strictly for agricultural purposes, thus the decision to first issue agricultural homesteads as a first step in getting Pagan resettled.
After the survey in 2017, DPL published proposed Agricultural Homestead Regulations specifically for the Northern Islands. The regulations are available online at www.dpl.gov.mp, or can be viewed at any DPL offices on Saipan, Rota or Tinian. DPL received comments from the Northern Island Mayor’s Office on the proposed regulations, and input from Northern Island residents for this initiative.
“Pagan is a very special place for many of our residents, and it is only fitting that we issue agricultural homesteads,” Concepcion-Teregeyo added.
According to homestead director Irene Torres, eligibility for the agricultural homestead program includes the following requirements:
-An applicant must be 18 years of age or older.
-An applicant must be a citizen of the CNMI and of Northern Mariana descent as provided in the CNMI Constitution.
-An applicant must be eligible to vote in the Northern Islands elections.
-An applicant or his/her spouse must not own or have an interest in agricultural land within the CNMI that equals or exceeds half hectare or 5,000 contiguous square meters.
-An applicant or his/her spouse must not have been a recipient of an agricultural homestead lot from a previous program.
-An applicant shall not receive more than one agricultural homestead lot.
All applications are subject for review and will undergo eligibility screening.
To apply and to receive more details, call DPL at 234-3751 or visit the DPL office at the second floor of the Joeten Dandan Commercial Building. For more information on other DPL matters, view their website at www.dpl.gov.mp and for daily activity updates visit DPL’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/DPLCNMI. (PR)