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By Steve Limtiaco

HAGATNA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, Jan. 25) – Families living in an agriculturally zoned subdivision in Yigo are being ordered out by the Guam Environmental Protection Agency because the land does not have adequate infrastructure and residents are using inappropriate sewage systems.

[PIR editor’s note: Yigo is located in the northern part of Guam, just southwest of Andersen Air Force Base.]

Notices of violation and orders to vacate are being issued to about 10 families, said Guam Environmental Protection Agency spokesman Michael Mann, because their homes are not connected to the island's sewage system and residents are using unapproved sewage systems.

Stanley Yamfag, 42, a resident of the Gill Baza subdivision since 2000, said he was given notice to leave his land within 60 days because he is allegedly breaking Guam law.

Yamfag, who lives in a temporary home with his wife and 10 children, said a permanent concrete home is in the works and he does not intend to leave the property.

Yamfag and other residents, mostly regional immigrants, pay developer Cyfred Inc. hundreds of dollars each month to purchase the land they live on in the subdivision.

Francis Gill, chairman of Cyfred's board, said installation of a sewage system has been delayed because the government under the last administration promised to install one, but the current administration will not do it.

"We had an agreement with Guam Waterworks Authority, dating from the previous administration, to put water and sewer lines in the subdivision. These current guys just won't honor the sewer line agreement," Gill said. "We've done the water (lines) under that agreement - we did water lines in a lot of other subdivisions under similar agreements."

The subdivision's creation was approved by the Department of Land Management under the condition that a bond be obtained to install a sewer system, said Carl Untalan, a planner for the land agency.

What happened afterward is unclear, Untalan said. "It was ultimately still the developer's responsibility to ensure that those infrastructures were put in," he said.

Mann, of the environmental agency, said agency officials determined that the permitting process wasn't followed for the subdivision.

"The facilities never came through our office for inspection or approval," Mann said. "The developer or someone needs to put in central sewer facilities."

But Gill said former Guam Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Fred Castro told residents they could use self-contained septic systems, which do not discharge waste into the ground and which are emptied by pumping them out. Yamfag said he installed that type of tank.

Gill said one possible solution would be to increase the quarter-acre lots in the subdivision to half-acre lots, which would allow septic tanks to be installed legally.

Gill said Cyfred Inc. divided the area into quarter-acre lots because of assurances at the time that the water agency would take care of installing the sewer system.

Most residents have vacant quarter-acre lots next to them, and if residents haven't built permanent structures, it might be possible to move them to another subdivision, he said. If the lots need to be doubled in size, the company will give residents a reduced rate, Gill said.

"We'll move in to take care of these people if Guam Waterworks Authority and the government of Guam insist on kicking them out. Cyfred Inc. has always gone the extra step, the extra mile, to help its buyers," Gill said.

January 25, 2006

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