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CLTC working past cited violations

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by Janjeera Hail

Guam - More than a month after the Chamorro Land Trust Commission's compliance team gave its first inspection report, notices of violations still have not been sent out to leaseholders.  But progress is being made and they've got a plan in the works.

In December, the CLTC's multi-agency task force presented its first inspection report to the CLTC board, illuminating a number of serious problems uncovered over the course of the team's survey of several CLTC agricultural leases.  The team, led by Dr. Bob Barber from the University of Guam, found consistent violations across many of the leases: unauthorized subleasing and noncompliance with labor laws, unauthorized septic systems, and nonexistent farm plans, just to name a few.

However, Barber wants to make clear that the team isn't trying to take away land from offenders, but rather to help leaseholders reach the goals of the CLTC.  "It can be a significant income substitution process and that's the idea of many of these smaller land trust leases is to for food security and to ensure that we have local production for our own families and homes. That's a key thing for this," he said.

For example, UOG just concluded a free three-day workshop on livestock techniques, and the Department of Agriculture is cultivating saplings that will be given out, free of charge, to lease holders who do not meet the 50 trees-per-acre requirement.  

John Borja, the chief of Agriculture Development Services, says that availability will depend on what's in season.  "If they're requesting for something else, they'll just have to wait until that's available in the nursery for production. If anything we're starting slowly so it's not going to be a rush to get a lot of plants or all the plants so we're going to be distributing it very lightly in the beginning until our inventory is increased," he said.

In the meantime, the CLTC board has yet to approve the format of the notice of violation letters to be sent out.  Barber says they've had to go back and rework the original letters presented to the board in December.  "Instead of a person getting one, two, or three letters or no letters, there would be one standard letter that goes out and just the areas of compliance and non-compliance would be checked-off in that letter, so that required going back and working with their legal counsel to develop it," said Barber.  "But we've submitted a letter for approval that combines all the separate letters into one."

CLTC Director Jess Garcia is also working on his own internal audit into the agency which he hopes to be able to present to the board and to the Guam Legislature in the beginning of February. All of these efforts are being done with the ultimate goal of making the CLTC a more efficient, accountable, and reliable agency.

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