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Saipan lawmakers OK bill on blighted properties

AFTER a lengthy discussion, the Saipan and Northern Islands Legislative Delegation on Monday unanimously passed an amended measure that will make private companies and government entities responsible for their blighted properties.

House Local Bill 20-14, which was introduced by Rep. Larry Deleon Guerrero, now goes to Gov. Ralph D.L.G. Torres.

During the discussion on the bill, Rep. Frank Dela Cruz noted that it had no provision for blighted government properties.  He said the government must also be held accountable for its abandoned properties.

He cited the Samoan housing site in Garapan that became infested with rats and was used by drug dependent individuals for illegal activities.

Rep. Joseph Deleon Guerrero said the bill had been discussed in  previous legislatures and was not passed because of certain concerns.

He said the bill’s intent is to get rid of “eye sores.”

Reps. Joseph Deleon Guerrero, Frank Dela Cruz, BJ Attao and Ivan Blanco then offered floor amendments to “clarity and strengthen” the bill’s intent.

Rep. Joseph Deleon Guerrero’s amendment included blighted properties on primary roads, and in tourist commercial and industrial areas, while Dela Cruz’s amendment included buildings  on public lands.

Attao’s amendment will authorize the enforcement of the law a year after its enactment while Blanco’s amendment inserted the word “days” after the number 60 in the penalty provision.

Rep. Larry Deleon Guerrero, in an interview, said the amendments were necessary to make the bill’s intent clearer.

“We are not trying to tell the owners to fix the property up and put it back the way it was. But we are asking them to secure the building’s windows and doors so that no one can enter and make it a haven for crime. My bill is addressing the concerns of the community about these abandoned buildings that have become eyesores. We don’t want our visitors to see these abandoned properties as it is not good for the image of our island. It affects the beauty of our island,” Rep. Larry Deleon Guerrero said.

“This bill was introduced in three legislatures, the 18th, the 19th and now the 20th. and I am glad that it finally got through and now goes to the governor. I hope the governor will support it and once it becomes law, the Zoning Office can start coming up with some kind of rules and regulations.”

Source: Marianas Variety : http://www.mvariety.com/cnmi/cnmi-news/local/104143-saipan-lawmakers-ok-bill-on-blighted-properties

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