Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Land grab

Land grab

Wednesday, 25 November 2009 01:51
by Therese Hart | Variety News Staff

Military planners could still use condemnation to take lands

GENERAL David Bice, executive director of the Joint Guam Program Office, has repeatedly assured the local community that the federal government would not condemn lands for use of the military buildup, but JGPO director Col John Jackson did not back up Bice’s statements during a recent radio interview.

Jackson gave evasive, vague and noncommittal responses when K-57’s Breakfast Show host Ray Gibson asked him if the military intends to condemn Guam lands.

Residents were also assured earlier that the military was not interested in acquiring land in the Sasayjan Valley in the Marbo area in Yigo, but the recently released draft environmental impact statement shows otherwise.

During a recent interview with Variety, Bice said the military would look into the acquisition of lands. “That's how we're going to approach this. It would be a normal acquisition process and that has yet to be determined as we go forward on that,” he told Variety.

Not at any price

Some local landowners said they would be interested in negotiating with the military for their portions of property in the Yigo area, but landowners of the adjacent properties within the footprint of the proposed firing ranges on the northeastern coast of the island are not willing to give up their lands at any price.

Landowner Glenn Nelson said that the draft environmental impact statement should have also taken into consideration other sites that are federally-owned to include off-island properties, and that non-federally owned lands should be the last option.

“I’m not so sure anymore if people actually grasp the concept of the potential negative impacts associated with this buildup other than the dollar signs attached to the various projects. I need help, the island needs help. This project is moving much too quick and impacts are far too great,” said Nelson.

Not theirs yet

Landowners in that area have said Benny Crawford, who leads the Tiyan landowners, are not the only landowners involved. Crawford seems poised to negotiate lands without the authority of other landowners whose lands lie within the footprint. Furthermore, Crawford and the Tiyan landowners don't even own those properties. They are still under the inventory of the Ancestral Lands Commission.

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