Legislators send back blighted-properties bill

A LOCAL measure that proposes to hold owners responsible for blighted properties was sent back to the committee for further review to give the owners ample time to comply if the bill is enacted into law.

All 17 members of the Saipan and Northern Island Legislative Delegation agreed that House Local Bill 20-14 should be returned to the Committee of SNILD Judiciary and Governmental Operations headed by Representative Ivan Blanco for further review.

In an interview, Blanco said some members have concerns on how much it would cost the government to maintain these properties, which are not kept by the lessee and would like to see some further estimation or cost analysis.

“Some members pointed out that if we pass this bill we need to give the owners time to clean and maintain their property. So the committee wants to include language that gives the owners at least a year to comply with the law,” Blanco said.

“Another reason for sending this back to the committee is that we want to reach out to the Department of Public Works because according to them there are about 80 properties that are blighted or abandoned. We want to know how much it will cost the government if we throw those responsibilities on them as there are also lands that are leased to the government,” Blanco added.

The author of the bill, Representative Larry Deleon Guerrero, said he agreed with the members as they want to make sure the bill is simplified so everybody will understand the intent.

“I agree that it must be sent back to the committee for further review so members can have answers to their questions. The members also want assurance that the provisions are clarified on government property such as the La Fiesta Mall. If the Department of Public Lands leases land to an investor, do they have set rules as to how to enforce the lease?” he asked.

“We have government property that is leased by the DPL and is blighted, so better take it back and simplify it. Then everybody will understand because this provision of the bill kind of generalizes everything,” Deleon Guerrero said.

“It’s a good bill, but let’s allow ample time from the date of the law’s taking effect so owners can prepare themselves to comply with it,” he added.

House Local Bill 20-14, which would hold owners of abandoned or blighted property responsible for securing and maintaining it was on the agenda for Delegation action on Monday afternoon.

DPL is in support of the intent of the bill but expressed concerns about some provisions.

DPL Secretary Marianne Concepcion-Teregeyo said they have objections to some of its provisions because the department is currently overseeing all public lands. They are worried that if the bill is put in place, they will be required to clean up all those undeveloped public lands and they are not yet ready to do that due to limited resources.

Source: Marianas Variety :

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