Maili landfill stopped, for now
State panel refuses hearing for proposed debris landfill
Waianae Coast residents who oppose a construction and demolition debris landfill in Maili celebrated yesterday after the state Land Use Commission decided not to hear a permit application for the proposed facility.
"I'm happy, really happy but it's not the end," said Jo Jordan, a Waianae Coast Neighborhood Board member. "I'm sure they'll be back."
More than 150 Waianae Coast residents, many wearing black T-shirts with a no-dumping logo or red T-shirts calling for justice for Hawaiians, packed a large meeting room at Kapolei Hale, and dozens signed up to testify. But they never got the chance.
Yesterday's action means that if Sphere LLC, doing business as Pacific Aggregate, wants to pursue its plan for a landfill in the spent portions of its sand and gravel quarry, it will have to submit a new permit application to the Honolulu Planning Commission.
If approved there, the matter could return to the Land Use Commission, said Anthony Ching, the panel's executive director.
DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
State attorney Bryan Yee, left, listened at yesterday's hearing to Clifford Olivera, who brought garbage to make his point against a landfill next to Maili Elementary School.
The commission's action also means that if Pacific Aggregate wants to have a landfill, it will have to do an environmental impact study, state Sen. Colleen Hanabusa said. That is because a change in state law in 2004 requires all proposed landfills to have environmental impact studies -- not just those on public land, she said.
Hanabusa (D, Waianae Coast) was instrumental in the outcome of the commission meeting. She told members that she believed the commission had improperly sent the matter back to the city Planning Commission for further action, after it denied Pacific Aggregate's permit application on Aug. 12, 2004.
State law gives the Land Use Commission the power to "approve, approve with modifications, or deny" permit applications before it, Hanabusa said. "The decision-making rule doesn't provide for anything other than denial," she said.
"Once denial was made in this matter, it cannot come before the commission within a year," Hanabusa said.
Instead, she noted, the city Planning Commission reconsidered issues outlined by the Land Use Commission when it "remanded" the matter to the city after its Aug. 12, 2004, denial. Those concerns included community issues about noise, dust, hazardous wastes and truck traffic.
At its July 13, 2005, meeting, the Planning Commission voted 4-2 to send the Pacific Aggregate request back to the state Land Use Commission with changes that addressed the Land Use Commission's concerns.
On Dec. 14 the Planning Commission discussed in an executive session with its attorney whether it had voted improperly at its July 13 meeting, then voted 6-2 to move Pacific Aggregate's application back to the Land Use Commission.
After Hanabusa laid out her argument yesterday, the Land Use Commission went into a 25-minute executive session to consult with its attorney. When the public meeting resumed, Pacific Aggregate's attorney, Roger Moseley, tried unsuccessfully to convince members that they could properly proceed with the meeting.
Commission member Michael Formby made a motion, seconded by member Steve Montgomery, to "dismiss for lack of jurisdiction." All seven members present voted for it. One member was absent and there is one vacancy.
"If we're going to err, I think we should err on the side of due process," Formby said.
Pacific Aggregate President Larry Wilderman said he was disappointed with the outcome. He said he would continue to pursue putting a construction and demolition landfill at the location, but was not sure of the timing.
"We've been working on it for eight years. We're not going to stop," he said.