DPL prohibited from collecting fees from encroachment

Teregeyo ‘Profits are made, but being prohibited from collecting, no benefit for NMD

The Department of Public Lands is seeking the assistance of the Attorney General’s Office to work around a public law that prevents the agency from discussing possible solutions to encroachment issues of private business establishments.

In a June 8, 2018 letter to Attorney General Edward Manibusan, DPL Secretary Marianne Teregeyo requested for the assistance of the AG to address encroachment issues of business establishments after several private businesses were found to be guilty of such.

According to Teregeyo’s letter, Public Law 15-2, or the law that created DPL, prevents the agency from pursuing discussions on how to resolve the encroachment issue, which they noted Saipan World Resort, Pacific Islands Club Saipan, Oleai Beach Bar and Grill, and Surf Club to be one of many to be found in violation of encroachment.

P.L. 15-2, according to Teregeyo, also prohibits the transfer of interest or erection of structures in public lands within 150 feet of the high water mark of a sandy beach unless the facility is used for public purposes.

“The encroachments I speak of are unfortunately not for public purposes, but instead business establishments,” Teregeyo wrote in separate letters to Senate President Arnold I. Palacios (R-Saipan) and House Speaker Rafael S. Demapan (R-Saipan) last June 1, 2018.

Teregeyo noted that after reaching out to Surf Club, they even proposed a public benefit to mitigate the encroachment, however Teregeyo stated that such negotiations may not be arranged in the absence of any legal authority.

“…DPL is restricted from issuing an interest in public lands that fall within this category and therefore, DPL is prohibited from collecting fees from business establishments in violation of this provision P.L. 15-2,” she wrote to Manibusan.

“The business establishments enjoy using public lands and are profiting from public lands and yet DPL is prohibited from collecting, leaving no benefit to the rightful owners of public lands, the people of Northern Marianas descent,” she added.

Teregeyo on April 18 and June 1, 2017 reached out to the Legislature for “guidance” in resolving the matters, to which DPL proposes to charge and collect for encroachments.

“Currently, we have been unable to collect on any encroachment within 150 feet of the high water mark,” she wrote to Manibusan.

Surf Club was informed of the encroachment on Jan. 13, 2017, according to documents obtained by Saipan Tribune.

Erwin Encinares | Reporter
Erwin Charles Tan Encinares holds a bachelor’s degree from the Chiang Kai Shek College and has covered a wide spectrum of assignments for the Saipan Tribune. Encinares is the paper’s political reporter.

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