All five Superior Court judges have recused themselves from hearing the petition a homeowners’ association had submitted against a planned car dealership in the vicinity of the Anaks Ocean View property.
The petition, submitted by the Anaks Ocean View Hill Saipan Homeowners’ Association Limited, wants the Superior Court to review the Commonwealth Zoning board’s decision to grant a conditional permit use application for Atkins Kroll’s Lexus dealership and repair and autobody shop in Puerto Rico.
However, according to the recusal order filed by Associate Judge Joseph N. Camacho, he said that conflict exists with him handling the case.
Associate Judge Wesley Bogdan said he is a resident and owner of a property involved in this litigation and therefore he cannot handle the case.
As for Presiding Judge Roberto C. Naraja, Associate Judges Kenneth L. Govendo, and Teresa Kim-Tenorio, they said their impartiality might be questioned, which is why they recuse themselves from hearing the suit.
A judge has yet to be assigned to the case.
According to the lawsuit, Anaks’ homeowner community wants the court to issue an order setting aside Zoning board Order 2022-1-03, and direct the board to revoke Conditional Use Permit 2020-10382.
The group also petitioned the court to issue a preliminary injunction prohibiting construction on Lot EA 496-R1 under Conditional Use Permit 2020-10382 until a full review has been concluded.
The 25-page petition for review states that the board issued its Zoning board Order 2022-1-03 on April 21, 2022, granting a conditional use application for a car dealership on a lot immediately adjacent to Anaks Ocean View.
The Zoning board permitted an industrial use on Lot EA 896-R, a car dealership, including an “extremely large, 27-bay repair and autobody shop with unknown, but inevitably significant impacts.”
“The Zoning board’s decision permitting the project is arbitrary, capricious, and not in accordance with law under the Commonwealth Administrative Procedure Act, 1 CMC § 9112(f)(2)(i), because the Zoning board either did not apply or improperly applied the legal criteria of the Saipan Zoning Law or SZL of 2013, as amended, 10 CMC § 3511 to the proposed project,” the petition states.
It added that the Zoning board’s failure to properly apply the SZL and take a hard look at the propriety of siting an industrial use next to a residential community may have resulted in additional legal failures by the Zoning board.
According to the petition, these include the failure to hire a professional planner with the required credentials as staff to the board, and the failure to evaluate the proposal in the context of a zoning plan that is economically neutral and protects Anaks from potential nuisances.
“Anaks repeatedly requested more time to submit information to the board and a contested case hearing. The board, however, provided Anaks neither actual notice of the proceedings nor an adequate opportunity to be heard. Finally, [the] Zoning board’s decision to approve the conditional use permit without rigorously evaluating the impact on the vicinity generally and on the residents of Anaks Ocean View specifically violate…the right to a clean and healthful environment,” the petition stated.