Trouble in paradise? No lease for company
Guam - On the surface, Paradise Estates in Dededo seems like an ideal neighborhood. But drive to the back of the development and you see a construction staging area. Not surprising, as Tonko Reyes Incorporated is expanding the housing community. The problem is land being used by the company is owned by the Chamorro Land Trust Commission.
CLTC administrator Monte Mafnas says he received information that led him to find out there may be trouble in paradise, noting, "I received an anonymous phone call and there after did inspections onsite and did investigations within our files and the folders and requested any and all information."
To no avail, he says. He added, "I have not identified anything in writing legally in terms of a license in terms of an agreement of a lease agreement nothing in writing and most of all, no payment."
Not only that, Mafnas says his inspectors found what he calls evidence of a blatant abuse of the property, and he has the photographs to prove it. "There are several containers that used for field office there is a burning pit, there is additional holes, there is burning everyday there are containers of paint, there is metallic waste all over the place, there is a fuel tank on site," he explained.
KUAM News visited the site and spoke with project inspector Eloy Alger, who said when asked if he knew who owns the property, "We don't even have any idea." Mafnas shed light on the situation, saying, "The project manager is Mr. Richard Untalan; he is the man, he knows everything. So if anyone can answer that question, it's Mr. Richard Untalan. He calls all the shots."
When we caught up with Untalan outside his TRI offices in the Compadres Mall in Dededo, he told us they have a deal with the CLTC to use the land in exchange for providing over $1,000,000 of worth of infrastructure. "I'm putting in all these services, putting in water, sewer, power - if you look at the map of Paradise Estates, you will find I'm providing a sixty-foot easement right into Chamorro Land Trust," he explained.
KUAM News said that we have pictures taken by the CLTC showing trash and that there is burning going on, to which Untalan replied, "Well, we are cleaning that up, but we are using it as a staging area as an exchange." When asked if he had something in writing from the CLTC, he then said, "Umm, I don't remember offhand. It's been some time, but I know I talked to previous administrator."
According to a real estate web site, 279 homes starting at $295,000 were sold since the inception of the subdivision several years ago, earning the developers upwards of $82,000,000. Tonko Reyes Incorporated should have seen a cut of around 15% of that amount, but the CLTC has not seen a penny in payments for the use of what Mafnas believes is several acres of property. "I just want to be fair if any and all companies are utilizing government land they should get legal approval from the entity, in this case CLTC, and they should pay for the privilege of using this property," he said.
In fairness, Mafnas says he believes the company should get an appraisal of the land and pay retroactive rent to the CLTC. Mafnas says by his calculations TRI could owe nearly $3,000,000 - a debt that may cast a shadow in paradise.