CLTC's commercial lease policies still up for debate - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

CLTC's commercial lease policies still up for debate

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After two decades, does the Chamorro Land Trust Commission finally have the rules in place to issue out commercial leases? It appears to be the case based on the Governor's Office's legal interpretation following the veto of Bill 139.

"I wholeheartedly support the governor's veto of this bill," said Michael Borja, director of the Department of Land Management.  That veto was for Substitute Bill 139m which disapproves the CLTC's rules and regulations for commercial leases. "A bill is nothing until its signed into law or overridden," Borja continued. "But it had a 90-day period in which to act, and just because you pass a bill, in our interpretation does not necessarily mean that that bill is going to be what is the desired action."

The governor and his legal team believe the rules have actually gone into effect under the AAA process. The governor's attorney, Sandra Miller, says the disapproval of these rules did not become effective before the 90 days passed, and therefore the proposed regulations automatically went into effect. Borja says he will wait for the attorney general's opinion on the matter before moving forward with any commercial activity - one of which was close to being completed but put on hold just waiting for the rules.

"We were looking do mineral extraction in an area, in the Yigo area that would take and terrace some property down to prepare it for subdivision development," Borja noted.

The project, which is expected to generate $3 million a year for a five year period, is being done by the Guam Economic Development Authority, which handles the commercial properties on behalf of the CLTC as part of a memorandum of understanding. "That one simple commercial activity was going to bring in a good sum of money to the Chamorro Land Trust Commission for us to be able to do the infrastructure development, for us to be able to do the survey, for us to be able to do all the things we've been asking to do from the legislature even through appropriations which they denied us for the upcoming budget," he said.

In the meantime, Borja says he will review the boxes of all the commercial leases issued by the CLTC including a dozen of which were not authorized by law. The CLTC proposed rules would require these unauthorized leases be renegotiated. He added, "That's why you end up having people who are paying for leases and licenses at grossly different rates because there was no standards and rules in place at the time."

Borja says he has had no conversations with anyone from the Guam Legislature on whether a proposal for new rules is in the works.

Bill 139's author and land oversight chairman Senator Tom Ada meanwhile has yet to respond to KUAM's request for comment on the matter.

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