Extension doesn’t settle landfill conflict
The state Land Use Commission has approved operations at the Waimanalo Gulch garbage site until next year.
In giving the city permission to continue using Waimanalo Gulch as a landfill until late next year, a state panel postponed an immediate showdown on the matter. Nonetheless, the conflict eventually will have to be settled and it appears that opposing sides haven't moderated their stances to the point where one can be reached.
The state Land Use Commission voted to give the city another 18 months beyond the May 1 closing date for the landfill instead of the two years the city had sought. Two panel members voted against the extension while a third said he voted for it only because closing the landfill would leave the city no site for trash disposal.
Members said they did not want to have to consider a fourth extension when the current one runs out next year, and their frustration was evident in the panel's order that the city report every six months about alternative plans.
While this might encumber the city, it offers an opportunity for the administration to sway the commission to its view that the site is the most suitable for the short and long term, which Mayor Mufi Hannemann says he'll do.
That's only half the battle. Leeward Oahu residents, who had been promised by a previous administration that the landfill would be closed, remain adamant and don't appear willing to change their position.
The city is working on plans to ship garbage to the mainland and to expand the H-Power plant to lessen the load at Waimanalo Gulch. Even so, the city will still need a landfill -- if not there, then somewhere else, and that somewhere else is likely to touch off another conflict.
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