Taitague: Economic growth dependent on timely review of land use applications

Senator Telo Taitague (PNC file photo)

Senator Taitague has introduced Bill 38 requiring the Application Review Committee (ARC) to provide position statements on land use applications in a timely manner.

Under the bill, member agencies of the ARC must provide their information within 45 working days from the filing of a land use application – and may request for an extension of up to 28 working days. The director of a member-agency that fails to submit their report must pay as a personal expense, an administrative fine of $250. The measure builds upon earlier efforts by Senator Taitague to support good economic growth through a more responsive ARC process.

Although current law allows the ARC to provide position statements and reports within 30 days from the filing of a land use application, Department of Land Management (DLM) representatives testified during an oversight hearing held several days ago that staffing needs and competing priorities result in agencies submitting their information after a period of 60 days.

Last year, the Guam Land Use Commission held only 3 meetings between its last in-person meeting on March 12, 2020 and a meeting held virtually on December 12, 2020. DLM officials assured senators during the oversight hearing that preparations are being made to conduct municipal public hearings as soon as next month.

“Despite stay-at-home orders in place for most of 2020, the work of the legislature continued with the help of technology and implementation of safety protocols. There’s no excuse for putting off land use applications particularly if development proposals could translate into new industries and jobs for thousands of Guamanians who lost work or have less hours to earn an income because of COVID-19,” Senator Taitague stated.

She added: “With Adelup taking a position that measures such as Bill 38 punishes member-agency directors as though the directors are maliciously delaying progress, I ask those currently in charge of running our government whether laws without teeth mean anything. What purpose does the current 30-day time deadline serve if agencies can easily ignore it?”