Apatang backs bill on blighted structures


The Saipan Mayor’s Office supports the enactment of House Local Bill 20-14 that would hold lessees accountable for the maintenance of their property once the original lessor leaves.

According to the office’s special assistant, Henry Hofschneider, it was discovered during village visits that, in many of the villages on Saipan, there are blighted properties that are either used to store municipal waste or have become dilapidated and covered in hazardous vegetation.

It is not the mayor’s office’s responsibility to maintain these properties but they have found themselves maintaining these properties to protect the wellness of the community, he said.

The Saipan Mayor’s Office is responsible for maintaining the cleanliness of villages by ridding them of debris, garbage, stray animals, and more. The office was recently invited to comment on HLB 20-14, which was introduced to discourage abandoned and blighted properties on Saipan.

According to the comments submitted by Saipan Mayor David M. Apatang, he and his office support the bill and encourage the Saipan and Northern Islands Delegation to pass it.

“In our municipality, abandoned or neglected properties are health and safety concerns that the government must take charge to protect the public from potential harm,” said Apatang.

According to Apatang in his letter, he believes that penalties should be implemented on property owners who do not maintain their property.

“The bill contains penalties that are typical in other jurisdictions to control blighted properties and we believe our municipality should adopt the same penalties for they have been tested and withstood legal challenges,” said Apatang.

He did suggest that the delegation give these property owners some sort of amnesty.

“The only suggestion we want to offer is to make the implementation of the bill less threatening to the members of the public that potentially face the penalties,” said Apatang.

He suggests a notice be given in advance to the property owners before the bill is passed to give them an opportunity to be in compliance.

“[Insert a] provision that [gives property owners breathing room for] at least six months after it becomes law. In this way, property owners that are in violation of the law will have advance notice to take care of their property,” said Apatang.

Kimberly Bautista Esmores | Reporter
Kimberly Bautista Esmores has covered a wide range of news beats, including the community, housing, crime, and more. She now covers sports for the Saipan Tribune. Contact her at kimberly_bautista@saipantribune.com.

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