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    Friday, July 19, 2019-7:31:15A.M.

     

     

     

     

     

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Zoning board rejects construction company’s rezoning application

AFTER a thorough discussion at the multi-purpose center, the zoning board on Thursday rejected a company’s application that sought to rezone a Chalan Kiya lot from village residential to village commercial.

RJCL Corp., which operates RNV Construction, wanted to build a warehouse on the lot. The warehouse will store construction materials and fabrication of materials for construction projects.

Citing the recommendation of zoning administrator Therese Ogumoro and the opinion of their legal counsel Christopher Timmons, board members Joe Ayuyu Jr., Frank Aguon, Ignacio Demapan and Tatiana Babauta voted against the rezoning application. The board chairman, Mario Taitano, was absent.

Also objecting to the rezoning application was Saipan Health Clinic and St. Jude Renal Care Facility chief executive officer Dr. Vicente S. Aldan.

He said having a construction company close to their medical facility will put them at risk and jeopardize the only private hemodialysis service on Saipan.

Aldan said they have over 60 patients or 724 treatments per month and any incident, including a traffic jam, caused by construction activities in the area may result in the death of a patient. He said construction company and the zoning board itself, if it would approve the rezoning application, could be held liable.

Ogumoro said the proposed lot to be rezoned is located in Chalan Kiya along Attilong Lane, east of Saipan Health Clinic and Green Meadows School.

The property, she said, is zoned as village residential and is immediately surrounded by lots zoned as village residential on its north, south, east and west, except for the lots on the northeast and west. All other surrounding lots are vacant, she added.

The zoning board conducts a hearing on various conditional use applications and rezoning proposals on Thursday at the multi-purpose center in Susupe.  Photo by Junhan B. TodiñoThe zoning board conducts a hearing on various conditional use applications and rezoning proposals on Thursday at the multi-purpose center in Susupe. Photo by Junhan B. Todiño

She said the characteristic of a village residential zoning district is to promote a residential community environment that is quiet, safe, and family and pedestrian-friendly.

But the uses located within 400 feet from the proposed lot for rezoning include a medical clinic, a private school, multiple apartment complexes, and mostly single family dwellings, she added.

The zoning board approved the applicant’s institutional residential application on Sept. 12, 2018 to renovate and occupy three existing one-story structures for staff housing with a total of 25 beds in the area, she said, adding that institutional residential is permitted as conditional use within a village residential zoning district.

This time, Ogumoro said the applicant is proposing to construct a warehouse for construction projects that is not allowed within village residential zone.

She said the zoning office “believes that the rezoning of additional lots within the immediate surrounding is not appropriate at this time, given the current uses within immediate vicinity, all of which are compatible to a residential community environment.”

She said the applicant’s proposal to rezone its own lot would constitute spot zoning which the agency does not support.

“We concluded our recommendation by offering to assist the applicant with several other options that it can go into,” Ogumoro said.

Zoning board legal counsel Christopher Timmons said the proposal could be considered spot zoning. “We would create essentially an island in the middle of a surrounding area of different uses,” he said.

He said spot zoning is improper unless there’s a clear administrative record that the public at large would benefit from it.

“Generally, those types of decisions have only been supported for something like a community center or something that’s going to benefit the public, not something that’s going to benefit a single landowner,” he added.

Diego Benavente, who represented the applicant, said there was a misconception about RNV’s application.

Not all its activities involve fabrication and heavy equipment, he said, adding that RNV also operates other businesses.