Guam Supreme Court Says Younex Can Intervene in Zoning Variance Protest; Superior Court Decision Overturned

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Guam – The Supreme Court of Guam has ruled that Superior Court Judge Elizabeth Barrett-Andersen abused her discretion by denying Younex International’s motion to intervene in a case filed by a Tamuning resident over the company’s Hospital Point development.

Mary Ann Sablan successfully challanged the decision of the Guam Land Use Commission [GLUC] on the grounds that she was not notified of a propsoed land use variance Younex sought for its Emerlad Park project.

Younex sought to intervene in Sablan’s suit, but Judge Barrett-Andersen denied their motion to intervene.

In an opinion authored by Chief Justice Phil Carbullido, Guam’s high court determined that the Superior Court “abused its discretion in ruling that Younex’s motion was untimely, particularly after it found that there was no prejudice to Sablan or the GLUC and DLM [Department of Land Management] . And that the GLUC and DLM did not oppose intervention”

The Suprme Court ruling concludes that:

(1) Younex did have a significantly protectable interest

(2) Younex’s ability to protect that interest would be impeded or impaired without intervention

(3) at the time of the motion to intervene, Younex was not adequately represented by an existing party.

“As such, Younex should have been allowed to intervene as a matter of right, and the decision and order of the Superior Court denying intervention was reversed.”

Younex Vice-President Dave Tyduingco said he is pleased with the decision but their lawyers will need to review before he could say more.

Younex also asked the Supreme Court to overturn Judge Barrett-Andersen’s decision in favor of  Sablan and to restrain the Superior Court from further interference with the GLUC’s decisions.

But that was denied in Judge Carbullido’s ruling which found that “a writ of prohibition is not an appropriate remedy because the proceedings it seeks to arrest are already completed, and further finding that a writ of mandate is inappropriate because Younex has a plain, speedy, and adequate remedy at law as a result of the court’s opinion allowing Younex to intervene in the substantive matter.”

READ the release issued by the Guam Supreme Court in FULL below:

The Supreme Court of Guam issued an opinion today in the case of Mary Ann C. Sablan v. Guam Land Use Commission and Department of Land Management and Younex International Corporation, reversing the Superior Court’s denial of Younex’s motion to intervene in the proceedings below.

This appeal stems from an order denying a motion to intervene filed by Younex after the Superior Court granted a petition for writ of judicial review to Mary Ann C. Sablan, which declared null and void the approval of an application for a zone variance previously granted to Younex for a condominium development in the neighborhood of Jonestown, Tamuning. Sablan’s petition named the Guam Land Use Commission and the Department of Land Management, but not Younex, as respondents, and challenged the variance approval on grounds that Sablan was entitled to notice of the public hearing at which the application was discussed, but was not provided with notice.

In denying Younex’s motion to intervene, the trial court found that Younex was not diligent in protecting its interest and that its delay in seeking to intervene was significant and unreasonable, and thus that the motion was untimely. Upon Younex’s motion, the Supreme Court expedited briefing and argument in this matter.

In an opinion authored by Chief Justice F. Philip Carbullido and concurred by Justice Robert J. Torres and Justice Katherine A. Maraman, the court determined that the Superior Court abused its discretion in ruling that Younex’s motion was untimely, particularly after it found that there was no prejudice to Sablan or the GLUC and DLM, and that the GLUC and DLM did not oppose intervention. Upon review of the other intervention criteria, the court held that (1) Younex did have a significantly protectable interest; (2) Younex’s ability to protect that interest would be impeded or impaired
without intervention; and (3) at the time of the motion to intervene, Younex was not adequately represented by an existing party. As such, Younex should have been allowed to intervene as a matter of right, and the decision and order of the Superior Court denying intervention was reversed.

Younex also petitioned the Supreme Court for writ of mandate and prohibition, asking the court to vacate the Superior Court’s amended writ of judicial review, enter judgment denying Sablan’s amended petition for judicial review and injunctive relief, and restrain the Superior Court from further interference with the GLUC’s legal duties. In an order issued today, the Supreme Court denied Younex’s petition, finding that a writ of prohibition is not an appropriate remedy because the proceedings it seeks to arrest are already completed, and further finding that a writ of mandate is inappropriate because Younex has a plain, speedy, and adequate remedy at law as a result of the court’s opinion allowing Younex to intervene in the substantive matter.