After an hour and a half of deliberation last Thursday on Saipan Zip Lines’ application to build a zip line in Marpi, the Saipan Zoning Board asked the company to withdraw its application and amend it to conform with some zoning requirements.
The Zoning board expressed support for the project but board chair Diego Blanco said that Zip Lines’ proposal lacks parking and bathroom requirements.
According to Blanco, he supports Zip Lines’ project “1,000 percent” but Zoning requires that upon submitting an application, parking and bathroom amenities must be provided in the application for conditional use.
Zip Lines owners Ron Hodges and Jason Shankweiler, along with their legal counsel Pam Brown, said the installation doesn’t require parking areas or bathrooms because they would be using the public parking and public bathrooms located in Marpi.
Zoning Office administrator Ogumoro told Blanco that the applicants did state that the activity would not require parking because participants would be riding shuttle buses and could head over to the Last Command Post if they need to use the restroom.
Blanco, however, reiterated that parking and bathrooms are required.
“I don’t know if we can approve this project or not. It is lacking what is required by Zoning law,” Blanco said.
Brown questioned Blanco on the matter of how their company will develop parking areas in a public land. Blanco said that they need a lease from the Department of Public Lands, and that this was the same issue they had before when they gave a conditional use permit to another applicant, whose project didn’t go through.
That project was for a skating rink, which Brown said she was involved in as well and knew of the situation.
“But we cannot get a lease without going through Zoning first because that is what they asked us to do,” Brown said.
Jack Torres opposed the project for not obtaining permits from the Department of Lands and Natural Resources and Marianas Visitors Authority and other concerns.
“I am asking the Zoning board to not approve this because it is an issue. Are we really considering this? Let’s not burden the government and burden the bathrooms and parking areas. We have to follow the law,” Torres said.
Zoning board member Bruce Bateman did note that the island needs more attractions and something new to offer tourists.