Sablan clarifies stance on Zoning hearing


The Dec. 1 public hearing of the Commonwealth Zoning board has upset some Koblerville residents because of the distance of the venue to the village when part of the agenda was about a rezoning permit for construction in the village.

The last Zoning board public hearing was held at the Gregorio T. Camacho Elementary School with the agenda of addressing a rezoning application in San Roque, Sadog Tasi, and Koblerville.

Residents of Koblerville were disappointed by the venue choice, which, according to Zoning board chair Diego Blanco, was requested by Rep. Vinson Sablan (Ind-Saipan) himself.

“I didn’t request for that specific zoning proposal on that agenda to be held at GTC,” said Sablan right off the bat.

Though it was true that Sablan asked for the San Roque proposal to be decided upon in San Roque, he did not specifically request for the Koblerville proposal to be decided in San Roque, he said.

“If the agenda pertained to the northern side of the island, then it would be proper to say that we want that discussion to be done at the northern side of the island. For the Koblerville proposal, I didn’t tell anybody that it should be held at GTC. What happened was these proposals were clumped into one and it so happened that one of them was pertaining to San Roque, which was why it was held at GTC,” said Sablan.

Sablan said that the Legislature has no authority over where Zoning conducts its public hearings.

“If they clump items into the agenda together, then we have no control over where it’s going to be. They could’ve held that specific zoning proposal at Koblerville Elementary School, but then the San Roque rezoning would be in that agenda and it would be the other way around,” he said.

Sablan said that according to current law, “there is no requirement [for the location of the Zoning public hearing]. Zoning could have it anywhere else. For this actual instance, I am not the one that requested for [the Koblerville proposal] to be held at San Roque.”

“The reason why [Blanco] referred to me was because there were San Roque decisions to be made on the northern side,” said Sablan.

Jack Muña, a resident of Koblerville, was against the venue decision and was unable to attend because of this.

“I complained to the Zoning board office [about the last public hearing],” he said.

“They should’ve held it here in Koblerville, not in San Roque.”

“The reason why they don’t have many [attendees] is because they made the wrong decision to hold it in San Roque. If they would’ve done it here in Kobler, a lot of people could’ve just walked to attend the meeting,” said Muña.

Muña said, like a lot of fellow residents of Kobler, that he was interested in attending the public hearing but changed his mind due to the time and place.

“I was going to show up, but I didn’t go because I was worried about driving at night. My eyesight is not really good,” he said.

Ramon “RB” Camacho, a resident of Koblerville and board chair of the Board of Parole, agreed with Sablan.

“I think it’s more sound to conduct a hearing near the area that is going to be developed. Call the people [near the area], because they are the ones closer to the development,” said Camacho.

“I think it is more appropriate, for me, to hear about the people within that area because they are the ones affected if there are any problems or they are the ones that benefit if the developer is expanding,” added Camacho.

Sablan said that he introduced HB 19-190 earlier this year to require zoning public hearings to be near the proposed location of rezoning.

Sablan plans to reintroduce the bill during the 20th Legislature.

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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