U.S. MILITARY LEASE ON CNMI TARGET ISLAND TO EXPIRE

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By Gemma Q. Casas

SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, April) - The U.S. military’s lease on Farallon de Medinilla where live fire exercises are held regularly will expire in August, but there are now discussions on renewing the lease contract.

Marianas Public Lands Authority Commissioner Henry Hofschneider said they are communicating with Navy Cmdr. and Judge Advocate Edward Lynch about the FDM lease.

"The U.S military still has a long, long-term lease on Tinian except for Farallon. We have a lease-back agreement. That lease-back agreement is set to expire August of this year," said Hofschneider.

"We’ve initiated communication with the Navy people on Guam. They are open now for discussion and negotiation," he added.

The military uses FDM for live-fire exercises and as a training site.

Hofschneider said the CNMI panel in the negotiation will include Gov. Juan N. Babauta and MPLA officials.

"We’re looking at the benefits that the CNMI would receive if we enter into another lease-back agreement. Right now, activities are permitted with the lease-back agreement but it’s very limited," Hofschneider said.

The maximum fee that MPLA can impose for the military use of CNMI lands is $5 per hectare.

Hofschneider said the CNMI government is also exploring the possibility of asking the military to allow varied types of improvements on Tinian.

He said activities at Tinian properties leased to the military are limited to raising animals and farming.

However, there are investors who are considering developing the sites for commercial purposes like the establishment of a golf course.

"We want to open up Tinian for other improvements that could generate more revenues," said Hofschneider.

April 1, 2004

Marianas Variety: www.mvariety.com

 

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