Proper zoning on Saipan is critical for the development of other areas on the island, according to Senate President Arnold I. Palacios (R-Saipan), adding that it adds value to surrounding communities.
Palacios was the author of Senate Bill 20-2 that became Public Law 20-20 when Gov. Ralph DLG Torres signed it last October. P.L. 20-20 established the Office of Planning and Development under the Governor’s Office.
“Zoning has been in existence for almost 10 years. The [Saipan and Northern Islands Legislative] Delegation has plenary power to change it, according to the law,” Palacios told Saipan Tribune. “And right now, things have been moving fast so we need to take a look at the overall development.”
He said that development would have a big impact on roads, traffic, power, and water. That’s where OPD would come in, to study and prepare critical areas for development.
“[We need] to spread [development projects] out across the island, so the impact is not only concentrated in one area and the economic benefits could spill over to the surrounding communities,” added Palacios.
He said the CNMI should have an overall plan that everybody would agree on—land use planning, long leases, and private land development. “Especially in critical areas like housing development for our people, to certain types of business activities in our villages.”
“It underscores the need for an overall plan that we can all agree on. Certainly, the plan is not going to be etched in stone; it is going to be flexible. Adjustments will be made but that is what the whole intent of [OPD] is, not just to establish an office.”
Palacios said OPD also aims to establish an institutionalized system. “Where things are appropriately taken in consideration of what the community needs.”
“And what is the best practice in developing a community that can sustain its development and quality of life. So, it underscores the need for something like that.”