A House committee voted last Tuesday to file—or essentially shelve—a bill that would require the Zoning board to hold at least three public hearings for rezoning requests.
The House Judicial and Governmental Operations Committee led by chair Rep. Ivan A. Blanco (R-Saipan) voted to kill Rep. Vinson Sablan’s (Ind-Saipan) House Bill 20-06, which mandates three public hearings to be held for proposed rezoning district boundary changes.
Current law states that Zoning may only conduct one public hearing before recommending to the Saipan and Northern Islands Legislative Delegation to pass a law in order to rezone a specific lot.
“Members feel that 30 days was enough and [the committee] voted 3-2,” Blanco explained. He added that prior to holding a Zoning public hearing, a 30-day notice is first released. He also added that if the delegation believes the public hearing yielded insufficient information, the delegation may also conduct public hearings on the same issue.
“If somebody missed that public hearing that Zoning [conducted], they could come up here and [voice their concerns],” Blanco said.
In an email response on the filing of his bill, Sablan said the intention of the bill was to have the community more involved with the rezoning process.
“With the rise in economic development, we are noticing more requests for rezoning on both private and public land. I introduced H.B. 20-06 to give our community members and residents more chances to weigh in on rezoning requests and to simply take part in the process,” Sablan said in an email.
“H.B. 20-06 does not oppose rezoning proposals but was aimed to ensure that we who make the decisions hear the voice of the community, especially those that are directly affected by certain proposals,” he clarified, adding that his bill could have been amended to at least two required public hearings to give the public “at least one more chance to attend any hearings.”