Zoning board OKs 3 marijuana applications


Former Department of Public Safety Commissioner Claudio K. Norita talks about the security and operation features of Saipan Select LLC’s proposal to renovate a building in Tanapag for their cannabis farm during a Zoning board meeting at the Pedro P. Tenorio Multi-Purpose Center in Susupe Wednesday night. Norita is a member of Saipan Select’s joint venture in the marijuana industry. (FERDIE DE LA TORRE)

The Commonwealth Zoning Board has approved three companies’ proposal to renovate and occupy buildings in Chalan Laulau, Garapan, and Tanapag to operate cannabis or marijuana farms, a retail store, and for lounge use.

Saipan Tribune learned that the next Zoning board meeting will also be likely all be about companies interested in venturing into the marijuana industry.

At the Zoning board public hearing Wednesday night at the Pedro P. Tenorio Multi-Purpose Center in Susupe, board chair Tatiana Babauta, vice chair Francisco Aguon, treasurer Perry A. Inos Jr., and members Joe E. Ayuyu Jr. and Kevin Guerrero, voted in favor of the proposals of Slider Marianas, Green Light Inc., and Saipan Select LLC.

Slider Marianas, which does business as T-Marianas, plans to put up a cannabis farm at the first floor of a two-story building in Chalan Laulau, which is zoned as mixed commercial district.

Green Light Inc., which does business as The Chronic, wants to establish a cannabis retail store and lounge at a preexisting one-story structure in Garapan, an area zoned as Garapan East District.

Saipan Select LLC plans to have a cannabis farm on the first floor of a preexisting one-story building in Tanapag, an area zoned as mixed commercial district.

Zoning administrator Geralyn C. Dela Cruz said the zoning staff has concluded the review of the companies’ proposed use for conditional permit and finds it acceptable to the amended Saipan Zoning Law of 2013.

Dela Cruz said the Zoning staff recommends approval of the companies’ conditional use application if conditions are met. Among the conditions are that the applicants shall comply with requirements of all regulatory agencies having jurisdiction over the projects, shall employ measures to control the noise level from reaching unacceptable levels beyond its property lines, and shall ensure that its operation does not generate noise, odor, light, and dust that will affect the neighborhood.

Inos moved to approve the approval of the companies’ proposals. All board members voted in favor to approve the applications.

Scott Malin of Saipan Select LLC said they are basically an indoor farm that will renovate a one-story structure that will be climate-controlled.

Malin said Claudio K. Norita will be addressing the security of their operation. Norita, who is a former Department of Public Safety commissioner, said he is partnering with Malin, John Doyle, and Chris Cook for this venture.

Norita said the building itself is going to have 16 cameras, access locks, access controls, locking system, alarm system, and fire alarm system. “We have a perimeter fence around already. We’re going to upgrade to a chain link fence,” he said.

Doyle said it’s actually a fairly attractive building, that one of the things that caught their attention is that there’s a lot of work into getting legislation passed so that they can do this.

He said their idea from the start has been to put out a classy operation.

“The building itself is sound, the structure is solid, security will be tight,” he said.

Doyle said they hope tourists who go to the Grotto will stop by their premises on their way back.

He said they’re really excited to be one of the starters of this industry.

Board member Deleon Guerrero thanked all the applicants for investing in the marijuana industry and for helping the CNMI possibly improve and jumpstart the economy and make it stronger.

“So I really appreciate how you guys are risking your money, so to say. I hope that…it works out for all of you,” Deleon Guerrero said.

Meanwhile, Zoning is going to revisit the conditional use application of Marianas Hemp Farms, which is proposing to renovate and occupy the first floor of a preexisting three-story building in Puerto Rico for its cannabis farm use.

The Puerto Rico area is zoned as mixed commercial district.

Administrator Dela Cruz said that on the Zoning side, Marianas Hemp Farms did not meet the required postings. However, Dela Cruz said, she was just informed that it was a miscommunication because of a power outage.

“So this is something that we can really rectify, it’s minimal. It’s just a small error,” she said.

Last October, the board granted Tuu Group LLC’s proposal to renovate and occupy two buildings in Garapan, including the former GIG Discotheque, for its cannabis or marijuana retail stores and lounges.

The board previously approved the applications for cannabis farming for Tuu Group in As Mahetog, Primo Farms on Capital Hill, and Marianas Hemps Farms in As Teo.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a senior reporter of Saipan Tribune. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has covered all news beats in the CNMI. He is a recipient of the CNMI Supreme Court Justice Award. Contact him at ferdie_delatorre@Saipantribune.com
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