Bill that closes gaps on enforcement of conditions on land use up for vote

Speaker Therese Terlaje (PNC file photo)

With the support of her colleagues, Speaker Therese Terlaje successfully moved Bill 39-36 (COR) to the voting file during the first regular session of the 36th Guam Legislature.

The measure seeks to strengthen enforcement of terms imposed by the Guam Land Use Commission (GLUC) for conditional use permits, variances and zone changes.

Often the GLUC imposes conditions or covenants to address concerns about projects that were brought up at municipal public hearings or through the regulatory agency review process.

Because these conditions are difficult to enforce after a project is completed, the measure would amend the law to increase the Department of Land Management’s (DLM) role in ensuring compliance at three additional stages: during the building permit phase, at the certificate of occupancy phase, and at the approval of business licenses.

There are many examples of projects that despite media and community outcry have not followed through on the conditions placed on them by the GLUC. Additionally, DLM testified that they do not have a ready list of projects that aren’t in compliance with these conditions and the authority to enforce zoning resides with the Building Official at the Department of Public Works.

“I found it difficult to even track down the conditions of several projects, let alone monitor if those conditions have been met years later. This bill could close these potential gaps in the ability to ensure projects are compliant by creating opportunities at multiple layers to catch any violations and work with project managers to rectify these issues before it’s too late,” said Speaker Terlaje.

In addition, the Bureau of Statistics and Plans Coastal Management Program also testified at the public hearing that there is no clear mechanism to enforce compliance for stormwater management and environmentally based requirements other than directly through the Territorial Seashore Protection Commission, which is the Guam Land Use Commission, and asked that TSPC enforcement be strengthened as well.

Speaker Terlaje stated, “This bill seeks to remedy the enforcement of terms and conditions of conditional use permits, variances and zone changes by actively including the Department of Land Management to be another check as to whether those conditions or terms are being applied in the project to protect our communities, residents and businesses in our villages and to keep them safe.”

Bill 39-36 proposes to give more authority to the Department of Land Management to enforce terms and conditions imposed by the GLUC even if the property is transferred. The Oversight Chair of the Committee on Health, Land, Justice and Culture added co-sponsors on the bill during session including Senators Chris Duenas, Joanne Brown, Telo Taitague and Sabina Perez.

(Speaker Therese Terlaje News Release)