Hawaiians get better chance to review proposed radio towers
A REVAMPED Web-based system could keep the native Hawaiian community in the loop about proposed broadcast tower construction in the islands.
With roughly a dozen new FM station construction permits in various stages of completion -- some of which may end up sharing towers -- the system will also be useful for broadcasters and the consulting engineers they hire to find sites for towers.
The Federal Communications Commission's Tower Construction Notification System is voluntary, set up to ease early communication between broadcasters who need to build towers, federally recognized native Hawaiian organizations, Native American Tribes and state historic preservation officers.
The FCC will demonstrate the system March 30 in Washington, D.C., but it can be viewed online beginning tomorrow at http://esupport.fcc.gov/ streamingmedia.htm.
Tribes and native Hawaiian organizations "will be able to more effectively protect archaeological resources and sites of traditional and cultural importance to them," the FCC announcement said. The industry will benefit from a streamlining of the process, in which other organizations have not responded in a timely manner to efforts at contact, the announcement said.
Timely anything can be a problem in these matters, considering the numerous other levels of government where clearances are required.
"While (the FCC Web tool) changes the paperwork flow, this system has mostly been in place in Hawaii through each county's land-use system when constructing a tower," said John Detz, president and general manager of Visionary Related Entertainment LLC, based on Maui. The company has stations statewide.
However, the Web-based system could limit the number of trips broadcasters must make back to the drawing board by making them get native Hawaiian input first.
When Maui-based Pacific Radio Group Inc. proposed a 495-foot-tall broadcast tower for the Waianae Coast last year, the previously unaware ears of the community perked up.
"If they're planning on going ahead with this, I would encourage them to approach the community very early," Cynthia Rezentes, chairwoman of the Waianae Neighborhood Board, said at the time.
Plans for the enormous tower are now on the back burner, according to Chuck Bergson, Pacific Radio Group's president and chief executive officer. The company is exploring other options.
"We like to be good neighbors and we're sensitive to the issue, so we don't want to do anything to upset any group," he said.
The Web-based system is a good step, Bergson said. "Just to put it out there on the table and if anybody had any objections, you could address them up front."
is a reporter with the Star-Bulletin. Call 529-4302, fax 529-4750 or write to Erika Engle, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210, Honolulu, HI 96813. She can also be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org