At least 47 land use applications with a combined investment worth $1.9 billion are awaiting action before the Guam Land Use Commission due to a bloated bureaucratic process that includes a vague and useless paperwork requirement.
Sen. Telo Taitague’s Bill 38 requiring the Application Review Committee to provide position statements on land use applications within 45 working days from the filing of a land use application, received public feedback during a legislative hearing held Thursday.
Dan Swavely, project developer, said agencies routinely take months to prepare "position statements" because they do not understand the intent and required content of a "position statement."
"Consequently, we applicants receive variations ranging from a few paragraphs to several pages. The majority of position statements simply repeats narrative from the GLUC application itself, such as the project description and similar physical characteristics, and then follow with a recital of laws and regulations which apply (or maybe not) to the proposed project," Swavely wrote in testimony submitted for the public hearing.
"This is meaningless information to an applicant and a waste of time, because it’s all available on the agency’s website or in literature readily accessible to anyone. I assert, therefore, that when ARC agencies rethink their position statements… one week will be sufficient time to submit.”
Bill 38 builds upon earlier efforts by Taitague to facilitate movement on land use applications that are pending action by the Guam Land Use Commission.
The time period proposed in Bill 38 provides ARC member-agencies more than 30 calendar days but establishes a new time limit which is not optional, and where a violation would result in an ARC member-agency director paying a $250 administrative fine as a personal expense.
According to information gathered during the Jan. 21, 2021 oversight hearing for the GLUC, at least 47 land use applications with a combined investment worth $1.9 billion have yet to move forward. Projects include temporary worker housing, telecommunications facilities, multifamily apartment buildings, single-family residential buildings, warehouses, conversion of an inactive hotel to multifamily apartment units, and maintenance and storage buildings.
“Together, these projects represent a real and significant shot in the arm for our local economy particularly at a time when there are thousands of Guamanians displaced from work or have less hours to earn an income as a result of the COVID-19 public health emergency,” Taitague said.
“The potential investments worth $1.9 Billion do not include the multiplier effect these projects, if approved, may yield across different industries through the creation of jobs beyond construction – and support for existing businesses such as restaurants, retail stores, telecommunications, healthcare facilities, and so much more.”