CNMI government to work on development master plan

GOVERNOR Ralph Torres appointed Kodep Ogumoro-Uludong to head the newly established Office of Planning and Development, which was created to implement an overall development master plan for the CNMI.

Ogumoro-Uludong was appointed on January 8 with the responsibility of analyzing and interpreting development trends, appraising and coordinating planning programs and working with the Advisory Council for Planning and Development.

Kodep Ogumoro-Uludong

“The mission of the Office of Planning and Development is to establish development objectives, standards, and principles for our islands’ land use as these relate to residential, recreational, agricultural, commercial, and industrial needs. As outlined in PL 20-20, the goal of this office and this advisory council is an enormous task, but it is also a rewarding undertaking. With community engagement and the resources, we can tangibly set a course for development in the CNMI that is consistent with the proper protection of our environment and historical heritage,” Ogumoro-Uludong said.

Public Law 20-20 mandates the creation of the Office of Planning and Development in the CNMI to establish the CNMI Comprehensive Sustainable Development Plan.

The author of the bill, Senate President Arnold Palacios said there is a need for an office to ensure that new developments can be accommodated given the current infrastructure of the islands and will not unduly burden such infrastructure in the years to come.

Palacios said the island is going through a period of economic growth, and new developments are wide-spread, but the CNMI does not currently have a master plan that outlines comprehensive land-use parameters, the establishment of communities, schools and roads and infrastructure needs.

Among the responsibilities of the Office of Planning and Development are preparing a plan, assisting in the planning, ensuring consistency, making detailed recommendations to the Governor and entering into and carrying out agreements.

The Office of Planning and Development will have a Commonwealth Planning and Development Advisory Council which will have 15 voting members consisting of the Director of Planning and Development, Administrator of the Office of the Environmental Coastal Quality, Secretary of the Department of Public Works, Secretary of the Department of Public Lands, Secretary of the Department of Lands and Natural Resources, Secretary of the Department of Commerce, Zoning Administrator, Director of the CUC, Director of the MVA, a representative from the Offices of the Mayors of Saipan, Tinian and Rota and Northern Islands, chairperson of the Chamber of Commerce and chairperson of the Governor’s Strategic Economic Development Council.

Press Secretary Kevin Bautista said Ogumoro met with the other members of the Board on Tuesday for their first meeting.

During the inaugural meeting, members unanimously voted to include the Department of Labor, the CNMI Public School System, Northern Marianas College, and the Northern Marianas Trades Institute in policy discussions on US workforce development. The council elected Secretary of Commerce Mark O. Rabauliman to serve as its Chairman.

Governor Torres noted that the council is an impressive group of individuals with a desire to create a development plan that will promote environmental protection, sustainability, and infrastructure effectiveness.

“With the surge of economic development in the CNMI over the last couple of years, it has been a goal of mine and the Legislature to properly plan out a sustainable path to prosperity on all three islands moving forward. We all want to ensure that we have the infrastructure put in place to accommodate the existing developments, but we must also advocate for cultural preservation and environmental stewardship. The creation of this long-term plan takes all of us, and we are looking forward to the policy discussions between our government, our private sector, and other community groups,” Governor Torres said.  

Moving forward, Ogumoro-Uludong noted that the office and the council will establish a system of integration of all major island activities and determine priorities for the creation of the plan.

Source: Marianas Variety :

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