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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Planning Board to draft new permitting regulations

“You have to be diligent and have clear priorities,” House Permits Committee Chairman Jessie Cortés Ramos, center, told the deponents.

By The Star Staff

The Puerto Rico Planning Board said Monday it is drafting new permitting regulations after the island Supreme Court rejected reconsidering its ruling annulling Joint Regulation 2020 and noted that the decision had put 200,000 permits into a state of uncertainty.

Last week, the commonwealth Supreme Court dismissed a second request from the Planning Board to reconsider its ruling. The top court had upheld an Appeals Court ruling that declared Joint Regulation 2020 illegal.

Héctor Morales Martínez, director of the Planning Board’s Legal Affairs Division, said in hearing before the Permits Committee in the island House of Representatives that around 200,000 requests had been submitted to permitting officials before the ruling. Now they will remain unfinished due to the decision of Puerto Rico’s highest court.

Under the new scenario, Morales Martínez said, the agency began drafting new regulations and confirmed that consultations were finalized.

“First of all, I want to establish that it is a shame, and I would have liked for the chairman of the Planning Board, Julio Lassus Ruiz, to have answered this summons since it is an issue of great importance for the country and must be addressed with commitment and responsibility,” Committee Chairman Jessie Cortés Ramos said.

“You have to be diligent and have clear priorities,” he added. “There are already four regulations that have been rendered null and void. The ones from 2010, 2015, 2019 and now the one from 2020.”

The first commonwealth Supreme Court ruling declared the regulation invalid because of little citizen participation. The government appealed the decision with the intervention of the Permits Management Office (OGPe by its Spanish initials). The second decision confirmed a decision issued by the Court of Appeals that the OGPe is not the entity that should develop the Joint Regulation.

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