Marianas Variety

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    Friday, November 15, 2019-11:01:25A.M.

     

     

     

     

     

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Crematory business withdraws zoning application

A FUNERAL operator on Saipan has withdrawn an application to rezone its properties from village commercial to mixed commercial in Chalan Kanoa, Zoning Administrator Therese T. Ogumoro said.

Juan Carlos Benitez, president of Marianas EB-5 Regional central, talks about a proposed funeral and crematory business during a Zoning Board meeting.   Photo by Junhan B. TodiñoJuan Carlos Benitez, president of Marianas EB-5 Regional central, talks about a proposed funeral and crematory business during a Zoning Board meeting. Photo by Junhan B. Todiño
However, Ogumoro told the Zoning Board on Thursday night that the applicant was also seeking assistance from the Zoning Office for an alternative use of its properties on Beach Road, across from Meena’s clothing store and the Aquarius Beach Hotel.

A day prior to the rezoning application hearing, Ogumoro said the applicant visited the Zoning Office and decided not to pursue the application.

At least three business executives who have hotel investments in Chalan Kanoa attended the hearing intending to express their concerns regarding the proposed funeral home in the area.

Mike Sablan of Triple J later asked the board led by its chairman Diego Blanco to inform them ahead if there’s a change of schedule in the public hearing, saying that it costs them a lot of time to rearrange their schedules.

The people who have concerns about the proposed project are “very busy” and some have even flown from Guam just to attend the hearing, Sablan added.

“We are not questioning the board’s authority and the office in changing the schedule, we are just asking consideration for busy people who’ve made a special effort to attend the hearing,” Sablan told the board.

Blanco apologized for the inconvenience.

Sablan asked the board to allow the general public to view the application.

“We need to know more about the proposed project before we comment,” he said, adding that they only learned about the proposed funeral home and crematorium through a public notice posted in the area.

Juan Carlos Benitez, president of Marianas EB-5 Regional central, asked if the Zoning Office would consider the applicant’s request for an alternative use of the properties so it can pursue the funeral and crematorium business without having to rezone the area.

He said the area, surrounded by hotels, cannot accommodate the number of vehicles that will need parking spaces during funeral services.

“That really concerns me,” he added. “You can’t put a crematorium in front of our hotels.”

Zoning legal counsel Kate Fuller said the way the law was written “we cannot have funeral homes in that area.”

But Blanco said the board cannot stop the applicant from asking the Legislature to amend the law.

Variety learned that the applicant is Frances L.G. Borja, president of the Carmen Safeway Enterprises Inc. She informed the Zoning Office on Jan. 9, 2014 about her company’s intention to expand and relocate the funeral business.

“We would now like to move our funeral home to a vacant building to consolidate our operations and to expand the business by adding a crematory,” Borja told the Zoning Office.

She said their two-story building in Chalan Kanoa has been vacant for more than two years.