AH landowner: Road closure was last resort

BOUNDARY MARKER: Vicente Salomon Drive in Agana Heights is mostly blocked after a landowner could not reach an agreement with the government of Guam about the road being on his property, as seen in this photo taken Nov. 4. David Castro/The Guam Daily Post

People in Agana Heights shared mixed feelings after they found out a road in their village had been closed off to drivers over the weekend.

As of Nov. 1, two signs and a wooden makeshift fence have been put up along Vicente Salomon Drive as a result of an ongoing easement dispute between the government and the landowners, the Torres family. The closure forced many to either turn their cars around or squeeze through the tight space next to the area that has been blocked.

Neighbors: It doesn't make sense

"Not happy," said Liz Murphy, who has lived in the neighborhood for more than 20 years. "This is a busy street. It doesn't make sense."

The roadblock has left many in the village questioning the actions of their neighbor.

"That's not a government posted sign. It's a private posted sign that you can see is on the easement, because it's inside the telephone pole," said one Agana Heights resident who asked not to be identified. "The road – how long has it been around? It's never been blockaded before. … Is this supposed to be a cul-de-sac? Is it a dead end? What does the code say as far as fire access for emergency responders?"

‘It's kind of nice not having people zoom down’

However, a third neighbor The Guam Daily Post spoke with, who only wanted to be identified as Christine, said she somewhat welcomes the closure.

"A lot of people use this to cut through the village," Christine said. "It's kind of nice not having people zoom down the road. It's just not safe. ... But if they close it, so be it. It's his property. I'll just go the other way."

Agana Heights Mayor Paul McDonald told residents over the weekend that he will continue to work to help restore access to the road.

He said the property owner has tried to resolve the issues regarding the easement with Department of Land Management and Department of Public Works Rights of Way, but had no luck.

Family: GovGuam has done nothing to resolve the problem

The issue has become very frustrating for the property owners who told the Post that they have been working to resolve the land dispute with the government of Guam for more than a year.

"It's very simple but they didn't do anything, and it's fallen on deaf ears," said a representative of the Torres family. "We've been trying to work with them. Our family is not in the business of closing roads. This is our village. We are born and raised here."

The owners are aware of the concern that has come from others since they closed the road.

"We don't like to do this. It's a huge inconvenience for everybody but this was our last resort. We got the appraisals, we did the surveys that they asked us to do. Surveys are only good for six months, so now if the government comes back to negotiate, we have to put out another $2,000 or $3,000 to do the appraisal. We had to hire a surveyor. ... The government hasn't done anything.

"It's a very simple solution. This is not rocket science."

Land Management: We’re aware of the situation

Land Management Director Joe Borja told the Post on Monday that he is aware of the issue.

He said his department would have to review the maps and aerial photos to verify the land owners' claims that the government paved over their private property.

"It's the public suffering from it, but the landowners may have rights," Borja said.

DPW management wasn’t available to provide a response to the Post’s requests for comment as of press time. 

The Post also learned that the Office of the Lieutenant Governor has stepped in to see what else can be done to resolve the problem.

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