SNILD approves 3 rezoning bills

The Saipan and Northern Islands Legislative Delegation last Friday passed three rezoning bills in separate locations.

House Local Bill 20-18, authored by Rep. Alice Igitol (R-Saipan), seeks to transform two lots in Tanapag from village residential to a tourist resort district. The bill passed the delegation with a 13-5 vote.

Sen. Sixto Igisomar (R-Saipan), Reps. Ed Propst (Ind-Saipan), Vinson Sablan (Ind-Saipan), Edmund Villagomez (Ind-Saipan), and Lorenzo Deleon Guerrero (Ind-Saipan) all voted against its passage.

According to discussions on the HLB 20-18, the Commonwealth Zoning Board earlier declined a business proposal to build a resort hotel in the area. Sablan noted that Zoning deemed the proposal “incompatible to its surrounding areas,” which is mostly industrial.

Sablan described the bill as “detrimental to the village,” saying the beach area is riddled with red flags. According to Sablan, that area is the endpoint of a storm water drainage.

Propst pointed out that the area is “not a tourist area” and a hotel would be “out of place.”

“We are representatives not of tourists, but of our constituents,” said Propst.

Delegation members that supported the bill argued that the CNMI needs more hotel rooms.

Rep. Joseph “Lee Pan” Guerrero (R-Saipan), who referred to the area as “contaminated,” said that developers “might mitigate the issue.”

Rep. Angel A. Demapan (R-Saipan) added that the legislation is a mere “rezoning process” and that regulatory agencies would step in to address future concerns.

Reps. Frank Dela Cruz (R-Saipan), Ivan Blanco (R-Saipan), and House Speaker Rafael Demapan (R-Saipan) were absent from the meeting.

House Local Bill 20-31 also passed the delegation. The bill rezones all lots adjacent to Beach Road from the lot located on the northeast quadrant of the intersection of Beach Road and As Perdido Road to the final lot on the southeast quadrant of the intersection of Beach Road and Chalan Monsignor Guerrero Road from village commercial to mixed commercial.

This rezoning includes Martha Store’s poker parlor, through an amendment to Saipan Local Law 18-04, which restricts the number of poker parlors by only allowing them in certain areas. The amendment states that all poker parlors in rezoned areas would be considered conforming.

“These are all areas abutting Beach Road,” said delegation chair Rep. John Paul Sablan (R-Saipan). “This [bill] was recommended by the Zoning Office,” he said, referring to an Aug. 23, 2017, letter from Zoning administrator Therese Ogumoro urging the delegation to make the changes.

HLB 20-31 passed the delegation on a 13-5 vote, with all members of the minority bloc opposing its passage. The House minority bloc consists of minority leader Rep. Edmund Villagomez (Ind-Saipan), Reps. Ed Propst (Ind-Saipan), Vinson Sablan (Ind-Saipan), Lorenzo Deleon Guerrero (Ind-Saipan), and Blas Jonathan “B.J.” Attao (Ind-Saipan).

The delegation also passed HLB 20-29, which rezones lots beyond the now abandoned La Fiesta Mall northward to As Matuis from a rural to tourist resort.

Sablan also authored HLB 20-29.

“I am just trying to make things consistent,” said Sablan, adding that HLB 20-05, which rezoned two sites to a similar zoning district, allows for more economic activity on the lots.

All three local bills now head to Gov. Ralph DLG Torres for signing.

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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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