The Office of the Attorney General has completed its review of 101 Chamorro Land Trust Commission leasehold files on government land parcels in Barrigada Heights, and almost all leases were found voidable or void.

Twelve leases were assessed as void, the AG review found. Leases in this category were obtained after an applicant transferred his or her application rights to another applicant, who subsequently received a lease. There is no legal basis for this practice, the attorney general said.

"The statute requires that every applicant must wait in line and does not allow an applicant to transfer their 'application rights' prior to death," stated Attorney General Elizabeth Barrett-Anderson.

She recommended that the commission send the current lessees and original applicants a notice of error and schedule hearings prior to terminating the leases.

Public scrutiny

The Barrigada Heights government land leases became public a few months ago when land clearing caused flooding below the cleared areas.

In addition to allowing certain lease applicants to switch with other applicants to gain land at the sought-after Barrigada Heights area, CLTC had been under fire for allowing leases that were approved administratively, without commission approval.

There were also land trust leases in the Barrigada Heights area, for $99 a year, that were granted to relatives of certain administrators. Barrigada Heights houses are double or triple the median Guam home prices.

Department of Land Management Director Michael Borja helped his sister get prime Barrigada Heights land, a transaction that was later canceled after the director came under intense criticism when the land fiasco became public. Land Management Administrator Margarita Borja helped her daughter get a piece of prime Barrigada Heights land, documents showed.

The Guam Daily Post requested the names of lessees of voided leases from the CLTC, but was told that no other information related to the attorney general's letter was provided and to check with the source of the letter. The attorney general's office had initially suggested inquiring with CLTC.

The majority of issues stem from 66 voidable leases in Barrigada Heights. Sixteen of these voidable leases were identified as being problematic because they involved "switches."

"These leases include one or more property exchanges, and in some cases, a property exchange after the transfer of a lease to a subsequent lessee," the attorney general stated.

Leases in this category need to be further reviewed by the commission to determine the facts in each file, as well as have CLTC administrative staff justify their approval of these leases.

For the other 50 voidable leases, the attorney general recommended a meeting to consider these leases.

The final 23 leases are incomplete files that contain no leases, or unsigned or partially signed leases.

Hearings may be required

"In accordance with the Administrative Adjudication Law, a due process hearing may be required for every lessee in the void and voidable categories to afford them an opportunity to be heard prior to the commission making a determination to approve or terminate their leases," the attorney general stated.

The review did not state whether the priority status of other applicants was bypassed. The CLTC is performing its own review of that issue.

The CLTC is not expected to meet in July because of quorum issues. The next meeting is anticipated in August.

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