Zoning board OKs conditional permit for Sinopan project


The CNMI Zoning Board has approved American Sinopan LLC’s request to amend their conditional use permit for the construction of $12-million villas and a clubhouse on Capital Hill.

The decision reflected the stance of those who attended the Zoning board’s meeting at the Pedro P. Tenorio Multi-Purpose Center in Susupe Thursday night and expressed support for the project.

After hearing the public comments, Zoning board treasurer Mariano Taitano moved for its approval. Board chair Diego C. Blanco and other members—Joe Ayuyu Jr. and Patrick Reyes—approved the request.

American Sinopan legal counsel Matthew Gregory and chief executive officer Ken Lin did a PowerPoint presentation about the project.

Former lawmaker Juan Iguel Tenorio described the project as “beautiful” and cited Sinopan’s willingness to contribute to improve the water supply in the area and pave the road going there— which he said will substantially benefit residents.

Rep. Joseph “Lee Pan” Guerrero (R-Saipan) also urged the board to approve American Sinopan’s conditional permit to allow the project to proceed.

In response to a concern about the villas’ height, Guerrero said if this was his property and he was trying to build a house and his neighbor complains about his project blocking the sunset, it’s not his problem.

“Why don’t you build your house bigger than me so you can see the sunset? Don’t tell me how to build my house on my own private property,” the lawmaker said.

Guerrero said American Sinopan is offering free money to fix the road and the waterline. “Let us not be dependent on the government. The government is trying to address everybody’s problem. Here’s a developer who’s trying to help the government,” he pointed out.

If this developer abandons the project, people would wait years and years before the road is fixed and have the residents get a 24-hour water supply, Guerrero said.

Right now, he said, Commonwealth Utilities Corp. records state that there is 24-water supply in that area. However, there still a lot of illegal tapping of water, he added.

Guerrero said this is a $31-million-plus project, which is an added revenue to the CNMI government.

He said he never goes there at night because there is no street light. “It’s purely dark out there,” Guerrero said.

Lin said they are happy with the public’s support of what they are doing.

“Our vision is we try to do something different,” Lin said, noting that in their last presentation with the Zoning board, they talked about their 1,200-hotel room in Tanapag.

Now, Lin said, with their villas, they want to actually create homes for the high-end residents. He said to attract quality tourists to come to the island, there should be higher level amenities to offer to them—topnotch villas that are high-end in style.

Gregory said they are pleased with the Zoning board’s approval of the conditional use and the concerns raised—road and water—are similar to American Sinopan’s concerns. He said they need access to water and a road.

“The interests of the homeowners and [American] Sinopan are the same, so there is not much of a conflict,” he said.

Dr. Tony Stearns, a resident of Wireless Ridge, earlier expressed concerns about the project’s height and scale but, after the meeting, he said residents think it is a great project and that Sinopan has already done a lot of good renovations on the former Magellan Hotel, which was turning into an eyesore.

“We are enthusiastic about their contribution to fix the road and the power situation,” Stearns said.

He said the power has been upgraded.

“We are just concerned that the height of the project and the scale of the project doesn’t fit with the nature of the neighborhood as we would like,” he said.

Although American Sinopan did not really address their concern, Stearns said the company listened to them. “They have been good to work with,” he added.

The project, called Capitol Hill Residences, is located across their Capitol Hill Resort, which is the renovated former Magellan Hotel.

Lin said the $31-million project is separate from the $350,000 renovation of the former Magellan Hotel.

He said the renovated Magellan Hotel used to be called Heaven II Hotel, and now it is called Capitol Hill Resort.

The CEO said the amenities of Capitol Hill Residences include KTV rooms and infinity pools.

Lin said the clubhouse will serve both the Capitol Hill Resort and the Capitol Hill Residences.

Last June, American Sinopan held a small groundbreaking for the construction of its project on Saipan, the Saipan Garden Resort in Tanapag.

Saipan Garden Resort will have 1,184 guestrooms, 170 apartments, and 108 staff apartments. The structure will be compound-like, with 14 six-story buildings, three swimming pools, and six restaurants.

American Sinopan’s mother company, SinoPan, is based in Shanghai, China.

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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