Zoning OKs some applications to rezone with some conditions


The Commonwealth Zoning Board has approved the application of some landowners in San Vicente to rezone properties from village commercial to mixed commercial, with the condition to expand the area for rezoning, in order for them to operate a cannabis retail store.

The area covered for rezoning expansion is from the Northern Marianas College traffic light to the San Vicente traffic light.

Napu Inc., which owns a lot, along with other owners of parcels of land in the area, filed a conditional use application with Zoning to rezone the properties in San Vicente. The owners of Napu Inc. are George Fleming and Barbara Hofschneider.

Dela Cruz

At the Zoning Board’s public hearing at the Pacific Islands Club Saipan’s Charley’s Cabaret Tuesday night, Zoning administrator Geralyn C. Dela Cruz said that, based on their staff evaluation of Napu Inc.’s application, they have determined that rezoning the lots to mixed commercial will not create significant impact to the surrounding areas, which are zoned as rural village commercial and village residential.

To avoid additional spot zoning in the area, Dela Cruz said they recommend that additional lots from Chalan Pale Arnold or Isa Drive to the traffic light of San Vicente be rezoned as well. “We recommend that the board moves in favor to rezone that entire area,” she said, reiterating that, based on their review of the application, this will not impact the surrounding properties or create traffic and noise.

Board treasurer Perry A. Inos Jr. moved to approve the rezoning with a recommendation for finishing Napu Inc.’s application to include the expansion of mixed commercial zone from NMC traffic light to the San Vicente traffic light.

Zoning chair Tatiana Babauta and members Joe E. Ayuyu Jr. and Kevin Guerrero also voted in favor.

Ayuyu then asked Dela Cruz what Napu Inc.’s options are if the Legislature denies their request to rezone. Dela Cruz said her understanding of the law is that in matters related to a request to rezone, the governing body is the Saipan and Northern Islands Legislative Delegation. She said SNILD has the sole authority to rezone and there has to be legislation.

The administrator said a lawmaker has to introduce a bill to rezone the area and, if the SNILD votes in favor, it goes to the governor for approval to become a law and officially rezone the area.

Dela Cruz said if the Legislature chooses not to approve the application, then it remains in its existing zoning district, which is village commercial.

“And in regard to this applicant, if it remains a village commercial [zone], the only cannabis use that’s allowed in village commercial is the cannabis lounge,” she said. “They [SNILD] can do spot zoning if they want. It’s really their authority. They can approve to just rezone this area or rezone one area or take the board’s recommendation,” she added.

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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