THIRTEEN local residents were awarded homestead lots on Thursday by the Department of Public Lands.
DPL Secretary Maryann C. Teregeyo, acting homestead director Ramon Salas and homestead technician Ben Olaitiman conduced a lottery for the lots in the presence of Gov. Ralph Torres at the DPL office in Dandan at 8 a.m.
DPL was ready to issue 41 homestead lots mostly in Kagman, but only 13 applicants showed up for the lottery. The 13 are among the 173 applicants who have been on the list since 1990.
Torres congratulated Teregeyo and her staff for making the lottery possible. He also congratulated the residents who waited patiently for their homestead lots.
“The last time we had a homestead lottery was 2014,” he noted.
To accommodate those on the waiting list, Torres said “we will look at other areas up north for homesteads or reduce the [size] of available lots that can be allotted.”
Torres said his administration is also working on additional lots on the southern part of the island.
Teregeyo said homestead regulations require permit holders to use, build and reside on the lot for three years after the permit is awarded.
She said DPL has homestead inspectors who check on awardees to determine whether thy are complying with the terms and conditions of the permit.
“One of the goals that I had when I came in here was to aggressively go after those who have not complied,” she said.
Asked how the new homestead lot owners can build their homes given the shortage of construction workers on island, the governor said: “Let’s take it one step at the time. Let’s give them land. At this point they have been waiting for it for a long time. Those [lots] are available now. We are not asking them to build a mansion.”
Teregeyo said they plan to move forward with the As Gonno and I’ Denni homesteads on Saipan.
But she reiterated that the “key” to opening homesteads is infrastructure development which includes water and power lines. That’s why last year, she asked lawmakers to appropriate funding for homestead infrastructure.
“If we get funding for infrastructure we can open more lots,” Teregeyo said adding that DPL “is constitutionally prohibited from using funds from land leases to pay for infrastructure.”
Source: Marianas Variety