CNMI land use plan includes Pagan resettlement

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(Photo from the CNMI Public Lands Office Facebook)

Guam – After 30 years, the government of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) has renewed its comprehensive land use plan. The updated blueprint includes a land use resettlement proposal for Pagan, the island being eyed by the U.S. military as a potential site for a live-fire artillery range.

The CNMI Department of Public Lands made the announcement on Monday, April 22 via social media that they have finally updated the document and are now in compliance with both constitutional and statutory requirements.

DPL publicly made available the CNMI Comprehensive Land Use Plan in March 2019. Aside from Pagan and the Northern Islands, the plan covers Rota, Tinian, and Saipan.

The plan includes an analysis of expected population growth by island, inventory of available public lands, and analysis of public facilities, and natural and environmental resources.

The U.S. military is currently preparing an Overseas Environmental Impact Statement to assess the potential effects of building the live-fire training range on Pagan. Former residents have consistently opposed this project, according to the document, hoping to promote, instead, small tourism-related economic development on the island.

Residents are also planning to return back to Pagan, which the master plan said could be open for habitation potentially within the next 5-10 years.

The plan was presented to the Chairman of the Public Lands Advisory Board, Antonio Quitugua during a March advisory board meeting. It was approved and adopted by the board on March 29.

During the process of building the updated land use plan, public hearings for the Northern Islands were held on Saipan. Residents who anticipate reoccupation of the northern islands attended the sessions.

The comprehensive land use plan was last updated in 1989.