Archbishop Still in Control of Property
By Gaynor Dumat
Pacific Daily News
March 25, 2016
The Department of Land Management’s cancellations and issuance of new certificates of title for a former hotel didn’t change the property’s ownership, according to the Archdiocese of Agana in a recent statement.
The statement was released in connection with the former Accion Hotel, which once was valued at between $40 million and $57 million before it was donated to the Archdiocese of Agana and turned into a seminary.
“While dissenters and opposers of the archbishop have claimed that the now canceled certificates of title were ‘bogus,’ the Department of Land Management diligently acted to address the concerns,” according to the March 18 archdiocesan statement.
“The Archbishop of Agana is the owner of the property, and the certification is dated March 15, 2016,” according to the archdiocesan statement.
The March 18 statement from the archdiocese is in response to recent concerns raised by Robert Klitzkie, a former part-time judge and former two-term island senator.
|Apuron (Photo: PDN file)|
Klitzkie has said the earlier certificates of title were incorrectly recorded because they didn’t include a “memorial,” or disclosure of who controls the property.
He has compared the lack of disclosure with a homeowner who shows a document of her ownership to a home without disclosing a bank has a lien on the property.
A 2011 deed of declaration signed by Archbishop Anthony Apuron essentially gave away control of the property to a four-member board of a nonprofit that’s not under the archdiocese, according previous statements from Concerned Catholics of Guam, and more recently echoed by Klitzkie. Their stance is based on a legal opinion by real estate attorney Jacques Bronze last year.
The March 18 archdiocesan statement, however, states the issuance of the new certificates of titles did not change the Land Management’s certification of ownership.
“The release of these new certificates did not change the ownership of the seminary property, but more accurately describes all the pertinent information recorded; the owner of the seminary property is the Archbishop of Agana … that has not changed since the day the property was acquired for the seminary,” the archdiocesan statement added, in part.
However, Concerned Catholics and Klitzkie contend that the deed Apuron signed in 2011 gave control of the property to a board of governors in which Apuron is a minority of four members. The remaining three are New Jersey-based leaders of the Neocatechumenal Way, according to documents.
Months after Klitzkie pointed out the lack of disclosure on who controls the property, Land Management made recent corrections outside of the required Superior Court approval process.
Land Management Director Michael Borja has said in a previous interview that the department could do the correction internally.
|Kliztkie (Photo: PDN file)|
However, Klitzkie said Guam law requires such corrections to be done within the court review process to avoid back-room tweaks of land titles and to keep the integrity of the land recording process intact.
Without the court approval of changes to certificates of title, such a document is bogus, Klitzkie has said.
Klitzkie also has shown a letter that displays Attorney General Elizabeth Barrett-Anderson’s agreement that changes to certificates of title should be made within the court process.
However, Land Management later made the correction internally, with the advice of an assistant attorney general, Borja has said.