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    Friday, May 25, 2018-5:35:15A.M.

     

     

     

     

     

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Rep. Vinnie Sablan: No to 75-year land lease

REPRESENTATIVE Vinnie Sablan said there is no need to amend the law to extend the current public-land-lease agreement up to 75 years, adding that the 40 years allowed under the present law should be sufficient for any investor.

In an interview on Wednesday, he said 75 years is too long. “I don’t think that is a good option for us. Maybe extend it to up to 50 years, I am open to that — I think I can support that. But 75 years? That’s too long. I don’t think a business can stay that long,” he said.

“We really have to be careful about extending land leases. For me, 40 years is sufficient. For one, with the issue of land scarcity here, with the amount of land that we have, 40 years is enough. The population and its diversity could change, and new investors may come in so we really have to be careful especially with developments happening very quickly. We have to control development.”

Vinnie Flores SablanVinnie Flores Sablan

He said with the ongoing issues about the workforce, infrastructure, waste management, among other things, CNMI leaders “should know what they want as far as economic development is concerned and how far they are willing to go in embracing development.”

He added, “A questio we need to ask first before we move forward is, how can an investor stay here for 75 years? I know for a fact that business turnover can be fast. I don’t think a business can stay for that long. If it can, that’s a very successful business and a very rare one. But with our present CW issues, will an investor stay for that long knowing he may not have a sufficient workforce? So I think we need to look at all the issues, like infrastructure, public land and private land, what’s being developed, and we must take care of all these issues before we start changing anything.”

The Mariana Resort & Spa is in Precinct 4 which Sablan represents in the House of Representatives. The hotel’s public land lease is set to expire on April 30, 2018.

“The Mariana Resort is going to be the first land lease that will end after 40 years,” Sablan said. “For me, 40 years is already a long time from an economic standpoint. I am sure they have made a profit in the 40 years they did business here in the commonwealth. I feel that 40 years is a sufficient amount of time for a business to thrive.”

Sablan said he doesn’t think that “we should change the law to accommodate one company — if we are going to do something significant, then we should do it for everyone and not just for one particular company.”

According to the Department of Public Lands, the request-for-proposals process for the Mariana Resort property has already been completed and it will be leased to Imperial Pacific International.