ALC board meets for first time since lawsuit - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

ALC board meets for first time since lawsuit

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by Lannie Walker

Guam - There was most certainly some tension in the air at the first Ancestral Lands Commission meeting since a lawsuit was filed against the agency.  The ALC's board of directors appeared poised to follow Public Law 30-158, an act authorizing the agency to transfer property from FAA and Andy South to original Tiyan landowners.

Benny Crawford, spokesman for said owners, told KUAM News, "The law is in our hands; we are trying to move forward getting deeds in hands of land owners that our focus our hearts break that other people are not part of the group, but we are tasked originally to identify the land owners that are with in the airport and land for this land exchange.  We focused on that. We did that."

Crawford told the board they were considering creating a trust to transfer the land into, noting, "We are looking at the trust for the simple reason is that if we start investing money out of our own pocket to create a master plan and the fed government comes out and yanks that from under us, we have lost."

GALC Commissioner Ron Eclavea agreed with Crawford this would save the board much time in surveying the land and holding title hearings.  

In the meantime, GALC Director Ed Benavente directed the boardmembers to move forward in allotting deeds to the Tiyan landowners.  He suggested the board hold title hearing for ten families per week, saying, "What we are trying to do is follow the law as best we can.  That is the bottom line." 

Crawford additionally said that if a trust was established, the landowners could at that time sign the deeds over to the trust.  The law, signed on July 13, gave the Commission 180 days to issue estate deeds.  Attorney Curtis Van De Veld, who filed a class action suit against GALC on behalf of original landowners, was also in attendance - he told the board they had a duty to protect all of the landowners.

Debbie Quinata with the Chamoru Nation told KUAM News, "What has happened is they have they have taken the responsibilities and the inventories away from the Ancestral Lands Commission and have decided to give it to a select group of people.  But there are so many more - the trust has an obligation to resist this new law."

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