DPL reviews land-use plan

THE Department of Public Lands is now reviewing the Comprehensive Land Use Plan Draft which will serve as a guideline on how the government will use and distribute public lands in the Commonwealth for economic development and for residential purposes.

Press Secretary Kevin Bautista said that DPL recently received the first draft of the Comprehensive Land Use Plan and DPL is now in the process of reviewing the draft with their consultants.

The consultant is SSFM International Inc.

DPL awarded the contract to SSFM last year to spearhead the development of the land-use plan.

The plan will serve as a master inventory of all public lands including their types, uses and zoning prohibitions.

It also identifies ideal sites for homesteads, community recreational sites and business development.

In a statement, the Governor said he is very pleased with the progress of the CNMI Public Land Use Plan.

He said the plan will be made available to the public during the second public hearing in March in Rota, Saipan and Tinian.

The Governor added that the public hearing for the Northern Islands will also be held in Saipan.

In a separate statement, Bautista said that the Governor is pleased that it is now under review as it is in line with the long-term goal of the creation of the CNMI’s first comprehensive sustainability development plan.

“The land use plan will ultimately undergo public hearings once it has been fully vetted and completed by DPL, its consultants, and the relevant agencies. This methodical approach is exactly the type of innovation this administration is undertaking to efficiently plan out the regulation criteria that governs the use, development, and subdivision of land here in the Northern Mariana Islands. We look forward to providing more updates as this plan moves forward,” Bautista said.

SSFM conducted public hearings on Saipan, Tinian and Rota last year to gather information which will be used in preparing the comprehensive land-use plan.

They are scheduled to come back in March this year to present the draft findings and recommendations to the public.

The Legislature appropriated $1 million to the DPL to fund the Comprehensive Land Use Plan project.

Public Law 15-2 requires that DPL adopt and promulgate a comprehensive land use plan. The process of updating the land-use plan will require consultation with the Public Lands Advisory Board and coordination with other permitting, development, and land management agencies, such as Saipan Zoning, Coastal Resources Management, and the Department of Lands and Natural Resources, to name a few. The plan will be consistent with other comprehensive land-use plans, existing legislation, and zoning laws approved for each senatorial district.

The last land-use plan was completed in 1989 by DPL’s predecessor, Marianas Public Land Corporation. In 2007, DPL undertook efforts to update the 1989 plan; however, that update was not completed. In 2015, DPL attempted again to update the 1989 plan; but the contracted firm rescinded due to scheduling conflicts and other commitments. Since the other proposals received exceeded DPL’s budget for the land-use plan, DPL canceled the RFP. After securing $1,000,000 in the FY 2016 budget for the land-use plan update, DPL re-issued the RFP and entered into a contract with SSFM on Aug. 11, 2017.

Source: Marianas Variety :

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