Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Sewage Concerns Persist

Sewage concerns persist: Emerald development worries residents
By Gaynor Dumat-ol Daleno
Pacific Daily News
May 27, 2008

For more than a year now, Jonestown, Tamuning, residents have seen their neighborhood change.

New, single-family homes with price tags of $500,000 or higher have sprung up on once-empty pieces of land, adding value to the generally upper-middle-class neighborhood.

But while the new, standalone houses have been welcome additions, some Jonestown residents aren't too keen on two 15-story condominium buildings and two 18-story condo high-rises that are planned for the area.

The four high-rises are part of the proposed Emerald Ocean View Park, a $100-million project of Younex International.

Jonestown resident Nelda Flynn, through her son Michael Flynn Jr., has written to the Guam Land Use Commission that the project, "is too massive in scale."

"Water, sewer, roads and traffic would be substantially impacted by the proposed development," according to the Flynns, who submitted the letter days before the commission approved the project in November.

Nelda Flynn provided a copy of her letter to the Pacific Daily News recently in light of the growing debate about the numerous proposed high-rises on Guam amid the water, wastewater and infrastructure constraints the island faces.

Jonestown already goes through periods of low water pressure.

Court petition
Another Jonestown resident, Mary Ann C. Sablan, has taken her concerns to the Superior Court of Guam.

Sablan is petitioning the court to order the Guam Land Use Commission and the Department of Land Management to reverse approval of the Emerald Ocean View Project.

Part of Sablan's court petition states the Jonestown area is zoned "R-2" residential, which, according to Guam law, generally limits multi-family structures to 30 feet, or three stories.

Developers, however, can ask the Guam Land Use Commission for an exemption from limits on buildings, size, height, distance from lot boundaries or property use.

Several members of the public have expressed concerns about "the systemic problems Jonestown ... experiences, such as frequent periods of extreme low water pressure and traffic congestion, and that these problems would be increased," Sablan's petition states.

Jonestown currently has about 125 homes connected to the island's sewer system, and the Emerald project would add 280 condo and villa-style units, according to a study submitted to the Guam Land Use Commission as part of the developer's proposal.

An executive for Emerald Ocean View's developer, Younex International, was unavailable for comment by phone and e-mail as of press time yesterday.

But the developer is addressing some of the residents' concerns.

For example, the developer has submitted a plan to the Guam Land Use Commission to pay for $935,000 in upgrades to water and sewer lines in the area. The developer's upgrades include installing underground, 12-inch-diameter sewer pipes from Jonestown to the main sewer line on Gov. Carlos Camacho Road.

The Emerald Ocean View's additional housing units will result in more than 591,000 peak gallons per day of wastewater flow to the main sewer line in Tamuning, according to the study. That's an increase from Jonestown's current wastewater peak of 351,495 gallons per day, the study states.

But after the Emerald Ocean View received approval from the GLUC and Guam Waterworks Authority, things have changed at GWA.

The agency last week put in place a moratorium on water and wastewater hookups for new projects in Tamuning, parts of Tumon and parts of Hagåtña because the main water and sewer lines in those areas have reached maximum capacity.

The Emerald developer's sewer line upgrades from Jonestown to the main sewer line in Tamuning won't ease the capacity problem with Tamuning's main sewer line, which sometimes overflows with its current load.

But the Emerald Ocean View project received GWA approval before the agency knew that the main sewer line had reached its maximum capacity, said Simon Sanchez, chairman of the Consolidated Commission on Utilities. The CCU functions as GWA's board.

GWA needs about $30 million to install new main sewer lines from Tamuning to the Hagåtña wastewater treatment plant. The governor's office on Friday stated it's working with GWA and the CCU to identify funding to address the wastewater constraints, but it's unclear if GWA would be able to expand the Tamuning main sewer line before the Emerald Ocean View's 280 condo units and villas get built.

In December, the developer estimated the Emerald's units will be available starting around the second quarter of 2010, with a starting price tag of about $500,000 per condo unit.

If the developer's time frame holds, GWA has about two years to add capacity to the main sewer line from Tamuning to the Hagåtña sewer treatment plant.

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