Pago Bay man says he's in the clear with wall - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Pago Bay man says he's in the clear with wall

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by Nick Delgado

Guam - The owner of the property that sits on the shore of Pago Bay is Richard Untalan, who tells KUAM News he feels he has not violated any laws by putting up the wall that now blocks access to the beach.

"Apparently there's been a claim that it's encroaching into the Seashore Protection Preserve area," Untalan said. He constructed this partial concrete block fence back in 2006 that extends about eleven feet towards the shore. The problem - concerns from residents who for years frequented the beach have been venting their frustration that now has the attention of the Attorney General's Office. Assistant AG Monte May said, "The construction of a fence that extends into the Seashore Reserve plus some other material put there that has become challenged by individuals who feel it should be accessible for recreational and fishing."

May presented the issue to the Guam Seashore Protection Commission this afternoon, seeking a resolution. "There are laws that regulate the use of private property, there are zoning laws and this is another example of a law that puts a restriction upon the unrestricted use of private property for the public good," he explained.

However, Untalan disagrees and through his legal counsel argued to the Commission that he is not in the wrong. He said he doesn't feel as if he's violating any laws at the moment, "Because I think they are not sure what the law is in terms of where the ten meters is and there's no plan that has been approved by the Legislature."

As part of the Seashore Protection Act no private structure can encroach less than ten meters from the high water mark. But Untalan contends he is not at fault claiming the property eroded over time forcing the water to ease closer to his land.

In the meantime, his attorney hopes the issue can be resolved without going to court. Said May, "There's a possibility, nobody hopes that it occurs and if there is any solution absent as an alternative that's satisfactory to both sides then that will be taken." Untalan said, "I'm more than happy to address it, I think it should be addressed because my property runs into the water."

The Seashore Protection Commission has ordered the parties to conduct their research and gather evidence so a formal discussion and decision can be made in April. By then, Untalan will find out if the wall he built on his land must be torn down.

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