City panel resurrects plans for Maili landfill
Controversy over a July vote spurs yesterday's action
A proposed landfill in Maili that appeared dead this summer received new life yesterday as the city Planning Commission reconsidered an earlier vote and advanced the project to the state Land Use Commission.
Pacific Aggregate wants to bury nonhazardous construction and demolition materials in its 50-foot-deep quarry off Paakea Road.
If approved by the state Land Use Commission and granted environmental permits by the state Department of Health, the operation would become the second construction and demolition landfill on Oahu. The other is PVT Landfill, just a few miles away in Nanakuli.
Yesterday's decision did not come without controversy. At issue is whether a July vote to reject the project was superseded by an earlier vote in 2004, which approved the project.
Yesterday's 6-2 vote followed a 15-minute executive session, during which the commission's corporate counsel, Winston Wong, advised members of their duties, powers and liabilities.
Wong explained after yesterday's meeting that "the commission may have applied the wrong rule (at its July 13 meeting) when it asked for a vote on the permit again" at that time.
"There was some confusion" on exactly what was voted on in July, "as we look back in hindsight," Wong said.
After the July 13 meeting, Waianae Coast residents who oppose any more landfills in their area claimed victory because a majority of the nine-member Planning Commission did not vote to move a favorable recommendation for the project to the state.
But with yesterday's action, the Planning Commission essentially agreed with an attorney for Pacific Aggregate that a February 2004 8-1 vote in favor of the project should stand.
Roger Moseley, an attorney for Pacific Aggregate, said the Planning Commission yesterday "basically clarified that their earliest approval was still in effect and that they recognized, without really specifying what the problem was, that there was some problem with the (July) vote."
Pacific Aggregate will comply with Planning Commission conditions from the July meeting that require it to exclude asbestos from the landfill, control rainfall runoff and deal with traffic and other issues, Moseley said.
The state Land Use Commission had sent the city Planning Commission's 2004 approval of the landfill project back to it for further study on those issues.
Final state approval is needed in addition to city approval because the project affects more than 15 acres of land.
Chairman Diane Peters-Nguyen, Vicki Gaynor, Rodney Kim, Karin Holma, Edson Hoo and Charlie Rodgers voted yesterday to move the Planning Commission's recommendation for the landfill project and city records to the Land Use Commission.
Member Andrew Jamila Jr. and Vice Chairman Jeff Mikulina voted against the motion. Member Richard Lim was absent.
"I think what we did in July is valid and acceptable," Mikulina said. "It should stand because frankly we shouldn't put a landfill in this area."
Jamila said he was persuaded by testimony from a dozen Waianae Coast residents who spoke against the project yesterday.
"I do not believe the environmental impact has been adequately addressed," Waianae resident Lucy Gay said.