SCA given notice to vacate premises within 60 days
The Commonwealth Zoning Board unanimously voted yesterday to deny Saipan Cares for Animals’ conditional use application. However, Zoning granted SCA a 60-day period from the date of publication of the order in the Commonwealth Register to cease operations and vacate its As Gonno premises. SCA will not be assessed a fine for its violations, but may be subject to immediate cessation of all operations and activities if certain conditions are still not met after this 60-day period.
This was all learned during a Zoning special board meeting yesterday at the Office of the Governor conference room. The motion on SCA’s application and the conditions for SCA attached were motioned by Zoning board chair Perry Inos Jr. The motion was seconded by board vice chair Francisco Aguon.
After going through preliminary matters, the board then went into executive session to speak with its legal counsel about SCA’s application and other items on the board’s agenda. After this discussion, as well as accounting for the information provided to the Zoning board thus far, SCA has been deemed noncompliant with select laws and respective Zoning regulations.
“In executive session, we discussed with legal counsel for advice for the conditional use application on today’s agenda. …With the current information provided to the Zoning board, we are advised they are not compliant with the law,” said Inos.
However, Inos acknowledged that ordering SCA to cease all operations immediately would be a public health and safety concern for the animals and Saipan community at large. After close consideration, a 60-day move-out period was deemed appropriate.
“We are dealing with animal lives. …[Immediately ceasing] Saipan Cares’ operations may result in public health issues and uncared [for] animals roaming the community. We do understand that it is the Zoning board’s policy to protect the health, safety, and general welfare of our residents and visitors. …This motion [if decided on] will allow Saipan Cares time to cease activities and is…tailored to what’s been presented to us in the past year to date,” said Inos.
SCA submitted its conditional use application to the Zoning office in December 2020, and a public hearing regarding this application was held on Feb. 3, 2021, during which public comments were received and Zoning tabled its decision on SCA’s application to August 2021.
The Zoning board met later in 2021 to discuss a separate application related to SCA. During this later 2021 meeting, the board allowed SCA to remain at its As Gonno location until February 2022, today.
During a Zoning board meeting on Jan. 19, 2022, one item on the agenda was a 12-month extension for SCA at its As Gonno location. This extension was denied.
It was made clear that there has never been a decision made by the Zoning board on SCA’s application until yesterday’s board meeting.
Inos’ motion regarding SCA’s application was to deny SCA’s conditional use application, grant SCA a 60-day period effective the publication of the order in the Commonwealth Register to cease all operations and vacate the premises, and to order SCA to follow several conditions during the 60-day period.
For this period, SCA should not increase its number of animals, SCA should not build additional buildings or structures on its As Gonno premises, SCA shall abate noise caused by the animals in its care, and SCA shall mitigate offensive odors caused by the animals in its care.
Also included in Inos’ motion was to not assess a fine to SCA for its violations, but SCA is subject to immediate cessation of all operations and activities if the previously mentioned conditions are not met after the 60-day period.
Stating that he is speaking for himself but hoping that his colleagues feel similarly, Zoning board secretary Kevin Guerrero said that, “if there was any way whatsoever to approve this application without violating the law, I would.”
As the situation currently stands however, Guerrero said that SCA’s application could not be approved. Following his remarks, the board then voted unanimously to deny SCA’s application.