Lawmakers debate pair of bills that could affect future land development on Guam

173

Click on the attached file for full coverage of the second day of the November legislative session. 

Guam – Entering the second day of legislative session, debate continued, this time on bill 318–A bill that would empower municipal planning councils by requiring MPC approval before for any proposed projects under review by the Guam Land Use Commission. the bills main sponsor, senator Frank Aguon Jr. explains that Bill 318 represents the foundation of what it means to live in a democracy. 

 

“You know madam speaker, sometimes I have to resort to reminders of exactly what the government is in existence for and why we stand here repeatedly every single day advocating for issues that would directly affect our community. I looked up the word democracy and madam speaker, the definition, just for my edification and those who are watching [is government by the people]. It also includes a government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly,” said Aguon Jr.

 

But not everyone agreed. Vice Speaker B.J. Cruz says he understands the intent of the bill, but he warns of about the unintended consequences the bill could have on further development.

“Madam speaker, while I admire and I support the passioned and impassioned speech about democracy, I think we all have to stop and realize, recognize that besides a democratic form of government where everybody votes, we have, from our constitution, established a republican form of government where a democracy has decided that some power was going to be given to a more central government,” said Vice Speaker Cruz. “I think we have to understand the precedent that it sets. Does the requirement that a zone change [or] variance by the GLUC is invalid because it does not have an MPC approval? [Does it] also mean that that should be in our standing rules that we can’t do any zone changing in this body without an MPC?”

Moreover, Cruz asks how Bill 318 would affect the legislatures ability to decide on future projects such as the new GPA power plants or the expansion of the sewer treatment plants in Harmon. Would that now require the approval of an MPC?

Meanwhile, Senator Aguon Jr. says that bill 318 was borne from the Guam Land Use Commissions decision back in April, to allow for the construction of high rise hotels in Pago bay despite the adjoining village MPC, the Ordot Chalan Pago and Yona mayors offices and the Mayors council drafting resolutions against the development. Additionally, the advocacy group Save Southern Guam and Ordot Chalan Pago mayor Jessy Gogue have both filed lawsuits seeking to stop the construction of the hotels.

Still, Vice Speaker Cruz maintains that the bill, while it has good intentions, will set a dangerous precedent and could affect further developments and commerce on the Island going forward.

 

“The ramifications are widespread. And we’ve got to make a decision on where the power lies or who should make the final decision because this way. Upstream or downstream somebody is going to say. And with NIMBE, someone has to finally say, for the good of the Island, it’s going to be here and we will compensate you with an additional 38 cents or whatever, but we really have to stop and think about the precedent that is being set by this,” said vice speaker Cruz.

Senator Tom Ada’s bill 335, which seeks to set up a hybrid GLUC commission was also discussed and moved to the voting file. 

2016.11.23_PR_Session_Update_P.M..pdf