Tumon hotel operating without occupancy permit - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Tumon hotel operating without occupancy permit

Posted: Updated:

by Ken Quintanilla

Guam - The Sherwood Resort closed operations following Supertyphoon Pongsona but it's now under new owners. And while repairs are still ongoing, it appears guests are already occupying the hotel, something the Department of Public Works and the Guam Fire Department say should not be happening because proper inspections have yet to be fulfilled.

You may have seen the signs advertising room rates, and perhaps you may have even seen guests staying at the former Sherwood Resort, now doing business as the Verona Resort and Spa. Well, according to DPW deputy director Carl Dominguez, no one should be renting rooms because the hotel hasn't been cleared for occupancy. "Obviously they had an occupancy permit years ago when it was the Sherwood, it's been closed for a while and they've reopened it, and apparently our permits section says they require a new occupancy permit," he said.

However, Verona Resorts owner and current occupant David Su disagrees. He purchased the shares of Sherwood limited last year and only changed its "doing business as" status this past July. And because according to Su, with both the former owners continuing to renew and pay for its business license throughout the years despite the hotel's closure in 2002 and he himself obtaining the new business license, he firmly believes the hotels former occupancy permit should still be current and there he should be allowed to operate.

Dominguez however says that isn't the case. He says shortly after the purchase, Su applied for a building permit to conduct interior and exterior renovations. A building permit is one of the steps to gain an occupancy permit, one of which Verona Resorts never returned to apply for. Yet Su says the building permit was only to make cosmetic changes and repairs adding there was no structural damage. Dominguez however says the hotel was clearly damaged and he's still of the position that the repairs were more than just cosmetic and require an occupancy permit before anyone can stay in the hotel.

"And why do we have this process called the building permit and occupancy certificate of occupancy it's for the protection of the public. It's really that simple," he shared.

It was about a month ago when DPW issued a notice of violation because the Verona Resort failed to show proof of such certificate of occupancy which in some instances could be as a result of not passing through proper inspections, which ensures there's no potential risk or hazard to future occupants. Before DPW can issue an occupancy permit, several government agencies need to signoff on the facility including the Guam EPA, Public Health, and GFD - the latter of which conducted an inspection last December indicating discrepancies in the fire protection systems and automatic sprinkler system.

GFD Captain Jose S. Cruz said, "And when I did the inspection, the fire safety and life safety was compromised therefore I gave them a notice of hazard and a fire watch at the same time."

GFD tells KUAM News that no one from their department has returned since to do an inspection, adding it's up to the hotel to reapply for a follow-up inspection. GFD however is under the impression that the hotel is still in a construction phase and that no one is or should be staying at the hotel. Captain Gerard Terlaje said on behalf of GFD, "It's understandable that this is an existing building, but due to the facility perhaps not being maintained, maybe abandoned or unoccupied, that any of the protector systems may not be in any operating condition thus the inspection in December that was the discovery."

Su confirms he's renting rooms only on floors six through nine while the remaining floors undergo repairs. Falcon fire protection has since come on board to help correct the fire discrepancies and as most recent as August 31, 99 percent of the fire alarm system was repaired and operating and all fire pumps have been tested and are functioning. Su adds one elevator is working in the hotel and that Public Health did a site inspection on August 30, approving occupancy of a total of 120 rooms only out of over 300. Another inspection is required prior to occupying the remaining rooms of the hotel.

GFD Captain Joey Manibusan meanwhile tells KUAM News despite Su's assertions, GFD has not conducted an acceptance inspection or an inspection for a final occupancy permit for the major renovations. He adds because their systems are not certified and approved by GFD yet, federal and military customers are not authorized to lodge in the hotel due to the Hotel and Motel Fire Safety Act.

Su claims people have been staying at the hotel for years, including its former owner. He adds since taking over, guests have been occupying for the past few months with about a dozen guests this week. DPW meanwhile says if they fail to submit an occupancy permit then further action will be taken. The bottom line is without an occupancy permit, no one should be staying at the hotel. "I'd like to give the property owners a little bit more time to resolve this but if not, DPW does not have the ability to shut them down, that would have to be done by the Attorney General's Office," he said.

David Su meanwhile says the former owner lost several documents during Supertyphoon Pongsona, adding he's still looking for the old occupancy permit. And after informing him of the concerns, both Su and the hotel's legal counsel, Cesar Cabot, tell KUAM News that they want to proceed in good faith if in fact the hotel committed any administrative missteps and hopes the government will show them the right direction. Cabot further tells KUAM that "the government needs to facilitate the industry and not try to kill business. The government should create industry and not be an obstacle."

Dominguez meanwhile tells KUAM that he will be having a meeting on Monday with Su regarding their lack of an occupancy permit.

  • NEWS HEADLINESMore>>

  • Brandon Cruz awakens Guam's indigenous tongue

    Brandon Cruz awakens Guam's indigenous tongue

    Meet 30-year old Brandon Cruz, a chanter with the I Fanalian' Oral History Project and advocate for the CHamoru language and culture.He grew up around his grandparents on his dad's side--a pair very in tune with their culture. "We would go down south to oMore >>
    Meet 30-year old Brandon Cruz, a chanter with the I Fanalian' Oral History Project and advocate for the CHamoru language and culture.He grew up around his grandparents on his dad's side--a pair very in tune with their culture. "We would go down south to oMore >>
  • Motorcyclist stable after Yigo accident

    Motorcyclist stable after Yigo accident

    A man hit by a car while riding his motorcycle in Yigo on Tuesday is recovering from his serious injuries at the Guam Regional Medical City. Police say he is in stable condition. The motorcyclist was rushed to the hospital after colliding with a black sedMore >>
    A man hit by a car while riding his motorcycle in Yigo on Tuesday is recovering from his serious injuries at the Guam Regional Medical City. Police say he is in stable condition. The motorcyclist was rushed to the hospital after colliding with a black sedMore >>
  • Three convicted sex offenders to be deported

    Three convicted sex offenders to be deported

    Three sex offenders will be deported. Governor Eddie Calvo signed commutations for the three men. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement identified the three non-U.S. citizens for having committed deportable crimes. They are Fel Maxmaylena, Jeshua JoshuMore >>
    Three sex offenders will be deported. Governor Eddie Calvo signed commutations for the three men. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement identified the three non-U.S. citizens for having committed deportable crimes. They are Fel Maxmaylena, Jeshua JoshuMore >>
Powered by Frankly