More community concerns about land - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

More community concerns about land

by Nick Delgado

Guam - While the Draft Environmental Impact Statement has been made available to the public for almost two weeks, it seems some in the community are raising concern as to whether the military has already done some serious damage before even the first set of U.S. Marines have step foot on island.  Senator Judi Guthertz says she is more than a little frustrated that the Joint Guam Program Office has done some serious damage to its mission of winning approval for the buildup.

"Not even thinking about any land condemnation on Guam in connection with the military buildup," said the senator.  "And I thought that based on my discussions with these folks that they understood that was something that would not be desirable."

Guthertz points out that from her review of the Draft EIS that land condemnation would be a last resort - an issue that prompted the senator to send a letter to General David Bice reminding him about the sensitivity of even the remote possibility of land takings through condemnation.  "Our history after World War II with reference to this particular subject is very sensitive and emotional, and we don't want to put our people through that again. And I will not support any actions that will involve land takings," she said.

Guthertz concludes that any land needed by the Department of Defense or any other federal entity must be negotiated with the private and GovGuam landowners. While Bice tells KUAM News he has not yet reviewed the letter, Guthertz says if she does not receive a response from Bice soon, then she will pursue other options to make her point clear that not even the littlest piece of dirt will be condemned.

Also concerned about land restrictions are the Guam Boonie Stompers, as the group has already found several sites that will be closed off as a result of the buildup.  Vice-president Ed Feely said, "By taking a lot of these sites away, we not only lose those sites but we lose the quality of a lot of the other sites that people would go to as an alternative. They have a lot of lands, why do they need to take those."

However, Civilian Military Task Force Chairman Tony Lamorena cautions everyone when taking a look at the DEIS, saying, "We have to make comment on every portion of it, versus just cherry picking one issue. It's a very comprehensive process."

The DEIS has pointed out that DoD does not have statutory authority to undertake mitigation on non-DoD land as it states to avoid, minimize, replace, or compensate impacts if implemented by the Navy or other DoD agencies.  The DEIS does say that the feds plan to negotiate a long-term lease instead of purchasing non-federally funded-controlled land.

Although the public comments will be taken into consideration once the 90-day review period is up, the DEIS states that the military does intend to revise community plans to address the proposed DoD land uses.

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