DPL holds big lottery of homestead lots in As Gonno


Gov. Ralph DLG Torres, sixth from left, House of Representatives Speaker Edmund S. Villagomez (Ind.-Saipan), ninth from left, and Department of Public Lands Secretary Sixto K. Igisomar, seventh from left, lead DPL officials and lawmakers in the ribbon-cutting ceremony yesterday morning for the As Gonno Plumeria Estate Homestead. Also in the photo are CNMI Infrastructure Recovery Program coordinator Marianne Teregeyo-Concepcion, fifth from left, Commonwealth Utilities Corp. executive director Gary P. Camacho, third from right, and Fr. Rey Rosal, fourth from right. (FERDIE DE LA TORRE)

After two decades, the Department of Public Lands held yesterday one of the biggest lotteries of homestead lots on Saipan during a ribbon cutting ceremony for the 330 lots As Gonno Plumeria Estate Homestead.

Thirty out of 2,100 pending applicants drew their lot numbers. Each lot contains 500 square meters of public land. DPL will soon hold more homestead lotteries for the As Gonno project.

Melia Johnson, 47, a legislative aide, was among those 30 awarded with homestead lots.

Johnson, in an interview, said she put in her application back in 1994 and that she has been waiting since then.

“So finally I got awarded my homestead,” Johnson said. “I’m really happy.”

She plans to start clearing the homestead lot once she goes to  the DPL office and pay the permit fees.

Gov. Ralph DLG Torres said the Commonwealth Utilities Corp. needs to install sewer and power at the As Gonno Plumeria  Estate Homestead, but the lottery is a step forward giving everyone the opportunity to start on their homestead.

“I know this is probably the biggest one we’ve done in how many years? Two decades. That’s 20 years ago,” Torres said.

The governor said there are still a lot more homestead applicants, but that the administration and DPL are definitely one step closer in addressing the shortage of land.

“We don’t have enough land for everybody. But  we definitely  have this as a priority to give those opportunities,” he said.

Torres said especially now with some of the federal funding that the CNMI has, he hopes that with this As Gonno Homestead they will be able to fulfill the application to build people’s homes and dreams.

He said CUC has a long way to go, but they want to make sure that they have a very good As Gonno subdivision.

The governor said he wants to put up an additional fire station for the community in the subdivision area.

“Some of you flew all the way from Texas and have been waiting for this for a long time. I thank you for your patience. But we’re here and moving forward  in making this a reality,” Torres said.

Department of Public Lands Secretary Sixto K. Igisomar said former DPL secretary Marianne Concepcion-Teregeyo kicked this project down the road, knowing  that there is a need to provide homes to the Northern Marianas Descent people.

Igisomar said when he assumed the position of DPL secretary, he was able to witness the hard working divisions that Concepcion-Teregeyo commanded with her “adeptness and leadership.”

He said he observed the department, its partners, other agencies, coming together to keep the project ball rolling, amidst challenges of resources, environmental permitting, and other external forces beyond the CNMI’s border control.

Igisomar said the end game is having a village homestead quit claim deeds issued.

Igisomar said the middle game is holding lottery of the lots, issuing entry permits, then the CNMI Infrastructure and  Recovery Program team, CUC, Department of  Public Works, and other regulatory agencies, work together toward the end game of having water and sewer, and quit-claim-deeds to soon-to-be new 330 homeowners.

“The moment we are in today, is made possible, aside from all the hard work of our public lands and department and offices of our governor’s executive branch, but truly from the direct support and financial resources from our governor through his department of Finance,” he said.

Igisomar, in an interview, said in the homestead rules and regulations there is process of how to apply for a homestead,  and then how to get a homestead in one’s name, and how to  make it become a private or quit-claim deed.

He said after the application process, DPL staff will review the applications to make sure that people are qualified.

The DPL secretary said from there, they will send out letters  for those people that qualified.

Igisomar said once they certified their qualifications or quasi-certified because there’s going to be still more process that they have to answer, then there’s a lottery in which they pick random numbers of the homestead lots.

He said those who pick up their lots, eventually  will go to  the DPL office to complete the permit process and will be given a permit to enter the land.

“They can start cleaning it. And they have to maintain it for at least three  years. So while they’re maintaining it, we’ll be  inspecting to make sure that they are taking care of the land, they’re cleaning it,” Igisomar said.

He said if they abandon the land, they are going to revoke it from them.

He said in the third year if they complied with all the rules and regulations that they were signing on, then they would get  a quit-claim deed and the property would be private.

Igisomar said once the property is private, they’re barred from selling it or leasing it up off to the next 10 years.

“After the 10-year provision is done, it’s all theirs,” he said.

Homestead Division director Irene Torres said it took many years of planning and work between DPL, other government agencies, and private firms, to complete this project for the benefit of the community.

On behalf of the DPL Homestead Division, Irene Torres extended gratitude to Igisomar for his “energetic and inspiring leadership”, to the Legislature for the support, the

Office of the Saipan Mayor, IRP, CUC, DPW, and Department of Lands and Natural Resources, and all the government agencies that contributed to this project.

She said the governor continuously encouraged and supported DPL with resources to complete the As Gonno Plumeria Estate Homestead.

Irene Torres also congratulated DPL Planning Division and its director Pat Rasa and her staff for all the hard work to complete these lots to  house hundreds of people who patiently waited to finally have their place at home.

“All the long days for our surveyors under the hot sun, countless meetings to finalize the A&E designs, and all the efforts put together to allocate funding sources….so many hours put into this project,” she said.

Infrastructure Recovery Program coordinator Concepcion-Teregeyo said  it really touches the heart to see that those 30 people are future  residents in As Gonno Plumeria Estate Homestead.

Concepcion-Teregeyo shared that Gov. Torres was the one really pushing the project.

Concepcion-Teregeyo said when she was moved to IRP, they were given $7.2 million   infrastructure money and that the amount was subsequently given to CUC for the  water line and the sewer at the As Gonno project.

“So it’s really  a very good opportunity for NMDs and it wouldn’t have happened if the governor did not approve all of these.  And so it came from his push,” Concepcion-Teregeyo pointed out.

She said when infrastructure  money came in, Gov. Torres dedicated that money for the As Gonno Homestead project.

The IRP coordinator said they are working with DPL for Tinian and Rota as well so there are more homestead lotteries to come.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a senior reporter of Saipan Tribune. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has covered all news beats in the CNMI. He is a recipient of the CNMI Supreme Court Justice Award. Contact him at ferdie_delatorre@Saipantribune.com

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