Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Guam - Tomorrow the Guam Land Use Commission (GLUC) will hear a zone change request for a major development being proposed in the middle of the island near the Sigua falls.

The massive project which encompasses 1,146 acres of agriculturally zoned property owned by Texas A&M university could bring as many as 5,000 new homes.

The Guam Highland Investment group is planning on developing 1,146 acres of property in the highlands above the Sigua and Lonfit river valleys. The project is dubbed the Sigua Highlands and it could potentially include 5,000 new homes comprised of a mix of single family homes, town homes and a 25 story condominium. There are even plans for a town center complete with recreational facilities, stores, a park area and a school.

 

However, not everyone is pleased with this proposed housing development. UOG agriculture student P.J. San Nicolas is concerned that this massive development could take away from the natural beauty of one of Guam's favorite hiking spots to the Sigua falls. He also questions whether or not Guam's housing market really needs 5,000 more homes. "Who are these houses for? In these times our people are struggling to make ends meet and to put these brand new houses down and put them up for rent, how much is this rent going to be? Is it gonna be available to locals?” asked San Nicolas.

 San Nicolas points out that there are quite a few recently constructed homes that are sitting vacant and there have been some ambitious housing developments that are unfinished. He's also concerned about the erosion and other impacts. "Yes this is private property, but how much indigenous plants are in this land? How much endangered species are in this land? Have they looked at that? How much cultural artifacts are in this land? Have they looked at that?" asked San Nicolas.

 The UOG agriculture major would rather see this area be used as a farmland especially considering Guam dependence on imported foods. In fact the property is currently zoned for agricultural use and it's owners Texas A&M University are requesting a zone change in order to build their proposed development."We only have so much land,” said San Nicolas adding, "That land could be meats, it could be vegetables, fruits, it could be...you know, there's a lot of other things that you can do with that land besides just build houses,” said San Nicolas.

 San Nicolas says that he is just one person among a growing group of people who have heard about this development and are concerned about it's social and environmental impacts."Definitely people are concerned about the care of our land there's more people that are being concerned about our environment or environmental awareness. The thing is, these things are happening so fast that we have no opportunity to react,” said San Nicolas.

 The Guam Land Use Commission has held three separate public hearings on the zoning change. One in Yona, one in Ordot, Chalan Pago and one in Asan, but San Nicolas says he was not aware of any of these public hearings. "We need to become more aware earlier and we need to come together and be more responsible with our land because we only have so much. We're going to keep on building all these homes and where is room to grow food because that's what we really need we need food more than we need homes,” said San Nicolas.

 The proposed site is located South of Ordot and North of the Leo Palace Resort. The property was donated by millionaire H. Dwight look in 1992 who was a graduate of the university. The GLUC will meet tomorrow at the Department of Land Management at 1:30pm.