The Fono was a no show at a meeting today of the Project Notification and Review System Board to review their after the fact application for a land use permit.
The permit is for a major renovation of the Fono guesthouse which began in November.
The renovation job by contractor Paramount Builders has continued unabated in full view of everyone that passes by, despite a stop notice issued to the lawmaking body early last month.
Two members of the PNRS Board expressed disappointment at the Fono‘s total disregard of the government’s land use permitting system which all others have to abide by.
They said ASG departments, businesses , churches, and individuals all have to apply for land use permits , and the review system is for the protection of the environment, land and ocean resources.
They worry that others will follow the Fono’s example derailing the landuse permitting system.
If the repairs did not alter the footprint of the fale Samoa, a landuse permit would not be necessary. But the building has been extended beyond the old structure.
The Fono began the reconstruction of the guesthouse without a land use permit, and when it was issued a stop notice, it submitted an application to PNRS but did not stop the renovations.
Owner of Paramount Builders Papalii Laulii Alofa said he only found out about the stop notice when KHJ News reported it two weeks ago.
He said noone at the Fono has produced the stop notice, and because he hasn’t seen it, the project will continue.
PNRS staff said the stop notice was issued December 8 and was received by Fono employee Bill Kalasa.
A notice that was published in the newspaper about the PNRS meeting today lists Senate President Gaoteote Palaie as the applicant for the land use permit.
The Senate president or a designee was absent at the PNRS meeting today.
The PNRS Committee decided at the meeting to send another stop notice to the Fono and if they don’t comply, the matter will be referred to the Attorney General’s Office for legal action.
The Fono Fale Samoa is the venue for opening ceremonies for the legislature.
Because the Fale is not ready, the opening of the Third Regular Session of the 34th Legislature will be moved to the Lee Auditorium.