Landowners may again get short end of the stick - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Landowners may again get short end of the stick

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by Janjeera Hail

Guam - Concerns are being raised over planned construction in South Finegayan, and it appears local landowners may, once again, be getting the short end of the stick.  "It's all for the benefit of this construction. How about us, the property owners?" questioned Terri Aguon.

Local landowners are demanding answers as to why the Guam Land Use Commission is allowing Younex Corporation to build roads up to 100 feet wide that cut across private land. The proposed roads would create access from Route 3 to barracks that will house 18,000 of the corporation's employees in the Harmon Annex.  

Land Management Chief Planner Carl Untalan says the department's hands are tied because the land was already designated as easements and is GovGuam property, separate from the lots returned to landowners several years ago.  "What we try and relay to them is that this is an encumbrance that we did not create. We basically at this point in time for lack of anything else could be done to it, we'll have to live with it at least for the moment," he said.

Untalan showed KUAM News an aerial view of the property that illustrates an existing road on the designated easement and explained that Younex would only be expanding it.

But Aguon, a second-generation landowner, says that doesn't justify allowing the construction of a road up to 100 feet wide.

She said, "Maybe the road exists after the Government of Guam took over and didn't give it back to the land owners. But thing is why 100 feet wide? My surveyor found 40 feet. Why now 100 feet?"

Ike Pangelinan, a third-generation landowner, says Younex has other options.  He says the corporation can create access by using an easement on their property identified on 1950's surveys of the land, that for some reason were not identified on a 1995 map by Perry and Associates.

He said, "And we noticed on Lot 53-12 through the northwest there's a bullcart trail there on the Younex side, so they don't like that because they want to take more from us, and less on their side. We're going to lose.  I would recommend we follow the original map of 1953 and 1956 maps and I have those maps and I got that from land management."

The Land Use Commission, however, maintains that even if the easements aren't used by Younex, the landowners won't be able to do anything else on it except build a road, too.  "If it did not do it in those fashion, none of those landowners could actually use those easements unless they individually approached the easement holder to obtain a grant of easement because it was never returned," he said.

Landowners will be able to air their grievances when the Legislature hears arguments regarding zoning changes in the area, but the Legislature will only be able to make changes if its determined that they were unfairly designated as easements.  Regardless of the outcome, this issue may only be the tip of the iceberg as Guam prepares for a massive influx in population in the coming years.

As local residents prepare to bring their concerns regarding the Draft Environmental Impact Statement to the military, this episode is making it all too clear that the military buildup will bring with it a new foe: foreign corporations.

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