DPW sues new owner of Casa De Felipe

Department of Public Works acting building safety official Weston Thomas A. Deleon Guerrero is suing the new owner of Casa De Felipe in Garapan for allegedly conducting construction activities in the premises without a building permit.

Deleon Guerrero, through counsel assistant attorney general Christopher M. Timmons, is suing Xiong Li for allegedly building without a permit, failure to obey stop work orders, and public nuisance.

Deleon Guerrero asked the Superior Court to issue a judgment declaring that Li’s conduct of constructing without a permit and in violation of the Building Safety Code is a public nuisance.

He asked the court to issue a temporary restraining order and preliminary and permanent injunctions, enjoining Li and all others acting on behalf or in concert with her from continuing construction without a permit and otherwise violating the Building Safety Code.

Saipan Tribune tried but failed to contact Li for comment yesterday.

Superior Court Associate Judge Joseph N. Camacho has refused to issue a TRO or preliminary injunction without a hearing. He set a hearing on Deleon Guerrero’s request for preliminary injunction on Nov. 17, 2015 at 1:30pm.
Camacho said after reviewing the documents and exhibits filed by the Office of the Attorney General, it is not clear if there are tenants or members of the public who are suing the building (other than the construction workers).

According to Deleon Guerrero’s complaint, in February 2015, Li began demolition, renovation, and new construction upon the premises of “Casa De Felipe.”

AAG Timmons said Li began these construction activities without a building permit and represented to Deleon Guerrero that she is both lessee of the premises and the contractor performing the improvements.

Timmons said when DPW’s Building Safety Division then sent building inspector supervisor Glen Palacios and building inspector Ivan Tenorio to investigate.

On Feb. 19, 2015, Palacios and Tenorio visited Li’s project and served a notice of stop work order for failure to obtain building permit and violation of the Building Safety Code.

Palacios informed Li that a permit was required before work could continue, and to visit the Building Safety Division’s office to obtain the permit.

Timmons said that, on May 5, 2015, DPW again visited the project, observed that work had continued without a permit, and posted a notice, and took a series of pictures.

Timmons said that, on Sept. 8, 2015, DPW learned that Li had continued construction of the addition in defiance of the first stop work order.

On Sept. 8, 2015, building inspector John Peter Sablan went to Casa De Felipe to investigate.

Timmons said Sablan observed that the demolition, renovation and construction had continued without a permit, and took a series of pictures.

Sablan then served a second notice of stop work order.

Timmons said Li continues to build without a permit and in violation of the Building Safety Code despite DPW’s numerous attempts to bring the project into compliance.

Accordingly, the government lawyer said, judicial intervention is necessary.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a veteran journalist who has covered all news beats in the CNMI. Born in Lilo-an, Cebu City in the Philippines, De la Torre graduated from the University of Santo Tomas with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. He is a recipient of many commendations and awards, including the CNMI Judiciary’s prestigious Justice Award for his over 10 years of reporting on the judiciary’s proceedings and decisions. Contact him at ferdie_delatorre@saipantribune.com

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