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ROTA, Northern Mariana Islands (March 13, 2002 – Saipan Tribune)---Ninth Rota Municipal Council chairman Richard S. Manglona is set to introduce a resolution to urge the Rota legislative delegation to enact a zoning local ordinance to protect the "ecotourism" theme of the island.

Standing in the middle of Route 100, a winding, twisting road originating from Teneto Village through the southern portion of the island to Sinapalo Village, Manglona pointed out the energetic sounds of tropical birds and the scent of the deep forest as testaments to the still-undeveloped beauty of the southern part of the island of Rota.

"The [Ninth Rota Municipal] Council will be introducing a resolution with a bill attached to pass a local law to state that future structures built along the southern portion of the island along Route 100 will exhibit a cultural design or something conforming to nature," said Manglona.

"We don’t want to control the way a structure is built. The local law is there simply to make sure that the front face of any structure meets the satisfaction of the theme," he added.

According to Manglona, an example to illustrate the intent of the local law is the building of a gas station or a house. The local law will not prohibit or dictate the development of any certain structure, rather, if a gas station is built, that gas station’s front should depict a tropical theme, or the house, if highly visible along the main road, will also conform to the theme, only on its front.

"Ecotourism is a very important theme in Rota for our tourists and for the sake of marketing our island," said Manglona. "We want to encourage the promotion of the environment and culture on Rota as people begin developing their property around this area [of the southern portion of the island]," he added.

According to Manglona, the most important part of this zoning law is to encourage economic growth and tourism, not prohibit or hinder it. "If passed, the zoning ordinance or local law will serve only to direct the development of anything you want to build in a reasonable and uniform manner that will carry out the objectives of the theme of ‘culture,’ or ‘ecotourism,’" he added.

"One of the major concerns we may hear is that this zoning law will tell people what to build, and that is not what we have in mind here," said Manglona.

"The purpose is to protect and encourage flexibility of design to one theme, reviewed by a board," he added.

The legislation will include the creation of a planning board, which will approve the character and architecture of the front facia of any type of structure, including commercial buildings, schools, fences, landscapes, signs and private homes.

"The board’s role is to review and comment, and to hear grievances, if any," said Manglona. "Zoning will not only preserve culture, but it will positively influence future development of this part of the island as more people build structures," he added. Members of the Board will be comprised of representatives as defined by the ordinance, which may include landscape architects, culture and arts representatives, structural engineers, or persons from real estate management.

Route 100 is a road stretching from Teneto Village through the southern portion of the island to Sinapalo Village. Although the roadway is accessible, only a small portion of the road is paved.

Plans are under way to pave the rest of Route 100, which many predict will prompt quick development of the southern part of the island, due to the accessibility.

For additional reports from The Saipan Tribune, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The Saipan Tribune.

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