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3 cannabis farming applications OK’d

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THE Commonwealth Zoning Board on Wednesday approved three of the four applications for cannabis farming.

The board approval of conditional use is among the requirements when applying for a cannabis business license.

The approved applications were submitted by Justo Quitugua Jr. of Primo Farms, which proposes to construct a single-story indoor cannabis farm on Capital Hill; Scot Thompson of Marianas Hemp Farms, which proposes to use cargo storage containers for cannabis farming in As Teo; and Joaquin DLG Torres’ Tuu Group LLC, which proposes to build a two-story building made of cargo containers for cannabis farming in As Mahetog.

Conditions

The Zoning Board approval comes with the following conditions:

Applicant shall comply with the requirements of all regulatory agencies having jurisdiction over the project.

Applicant shall employ proper measures to control the noise level from reaching unacceptable levels beyond its property line.

Applicant shall ensure that its operation does not generate noise, odor, light and dust that would affect the neighborhood.

Applicant shall improve its parking area and designate clearly marked parking stalls in front of its establishments that conform  with the parking requirement of the amended Saipan Zoning Act of 2013 within 10 days after approval of conditional permit.

Applicant shall complete the required permitting process before installation of advertising signboard.

 

Zoning Administrator Geri Dela Cruz, center, gestures, as she speaks  with Zoning Board Chairwoman Tatiana Babauta, left, and a Zoning Office staffer  during a public hearing at the  multi-purpose center on Wednesday. Photo by Emmanuel T. Erediano

Applicant shall install sufficient light posts within the parking areas and areas surrounding the facility.

Applicant shall keep its premise and immediate surrounding areas clear, clean and free from trash, waste or debris and shall screen any trash bins from public view.

Applicant shall submit a minor site plan application for a fence permit and complete the required permitting process before installation of fence.

Applicant shall submit a copy of the CNMI business license certificate stating the nature of business as cannabis farm within 30 days after approval of the conditional use permit and for every annual permit renewal.

Upon approval of the conditional use permit, the applicant must secure an approval of variance from zoning administration for the reduction of lot size.

Support, opposition

Dozens of local residents attended the public hearing. Some expressed support while others opposed the cannabis farming proposals.

Precinct 4 Rep. Sheila Babauta said if the property mentioned in the proposal of Quitugua’s Primo Farms is in her precinct, she would be very pleased to see an entrepreneur taking advantage of the opportunity presented by the cannabis industry. “I think the location is great for this kind of application because it is out of the public eye and in a very privately located area,” she said.

Precinct 4 resident and former Rep. Juan I. Tenorio said Primo Farm’s proposed location “is way into the jungle so I am in full support of the proposal and ask the board to please approve it.”

But Brigitte Camacho, a Capital Hill resident, said she and other families “live in that jungle.”

“I don’t want to be heading home at night and even during day and there’s someone in the middle of the road with a gun.”

For the proposal of Scot Thompson’s Marianas Hemp Farms, only one resident, Annie G. Hayes, expressed concern, saying the area is near where she and her daughter live.

She said her house has been burglarized once and her dogs were killed so she is afraid that there would be more burglaries if there is a nearby cannabis farm.

Several residents spoke against the Tuu Group LLC proposal.

One of them, Jadene Villagomez, said she was speaking on behalf of the 111 other people who live near the proposed cannabis farm in As Mahetog.

“Let it be known and let the record reflect that we hereby oppose the creation of cannabis farm by the Tuu Group in As Mahetog. We oppose the conditional use zoning category that will allow for this type of business in As Mahetog. The general consensus is that it will disrupt the peace and safety of the nearby residents. It can pose health hazards, fire hazards and increase criminal activity in the area which will put the lives of our loved ones in danger. This type of business should not be located near homes and we recommend that the Zoning Board create a location for this type of activity, like in Marpi.”

Another resident informed the board that there are outstanding land claims over the property where Tuu Group proposes to farm cannabis.

Former Rep. Alice Igitol said the estate administrator, “at this time opposes the occupancy and use of the portion of property, that belongs to the late Victoria Nekai Igitol, an heir to the estate of Juan Tegita.”

Civil Action 89-1033 and Civil Action 09-0198 are ongoing in the estate of Juan Tegita, and the estate asset inventory in the consolidated probate actions claimed by the estate of Victorino N. Igitol has not been distributed as of date, former Rep. Alice Igitol said.

Lisa Tegeita Dowai also submitted a written opposition on behalf of the heirs of Rosalia Tegeita Dowai. She said the claim by the  estate against their fee title has not been settled and has remained outstanding in the amount of $214,286 plus accrued interest.

Prior to the vote on Tuu Group’s application for conditional use permit, the board took a short recess, and determined that the court has proper jurisdiction over the concerns of former Rep. Alice Igitol and Lisa Dowai.

Of the five board members present, four voted to approve Tuu Group’s application and one voted against it.

Chairwoman Tatiana Babauta, vice chair Frank Aguon, board members Joe Ayuyu Jr. and Kevin Deleon Guerrero were in favor  while board member Perry Inos Jr. voted “nay.”

No decision

The board did not decide on the application of Gus Noble’s Max Investment, which proposes to farm cannabis inside prefab cargo containers in Dandan.

The board required Noble to get the signatures of the land owners or residents living within 300 feet from the property line surrounding the proposed cannabis farm.

Noble told the board that residents live way beyond 300 feet. He said he will comply with the  requirement, but added that he is not happy with the decision of the board so “I will also lodge my strong protest.”

He said delay in the approval of his application will cost his company a substantial amount of money.

November 2020 pssnewsletter

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