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Neighbors of Makakilo quarry beg department to shut it down


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POSTED: Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The controversy over Grace Pacific Corp.'s quarry expansion continues, as nearby Kapolei residents complained at a public hearing yesterday afternoon of continuing dust and noise.

Hawaii residents and neighborhood board chairmen came forward to testify both for and against Makakilo Quarry's expansion before the city Department of Planning and Permitting.

Grace Pacific seeks a major conditional-use permit to expand its quarry area an additional 20 acres to 99 acres, and extend its use of the land until 2032.

Planning Director David Tanoue will make a decision on the permit in about 30 days.

Malanai Iki townhome owner Lydia Bliss, who lives directly across from the quarry, urged the department not to grant the permit.

“;This is a death warrant to me, if you do,”; she said. “;Please, do not renew their permit.”;

Bliss bought her first home there three years ago and said that at the time it was her dream come true. While she was aware of the quarry, she said the work at night began to increase, along with the noise, dust and smells.

Due to medical conditions, including fibromyalgia, allergies and high blood pressure, she said, she has become imprisoned in her own home, living with the doors and windows shut. When she walks in the neighborhood, she wears a medical mask.

“;It's like 10 dump trucks idling and beeping all night,”; she said.

John Riggins, a board member of the Villages of Kapolei Association, brought one of his window screens to the hearing yesterday to show the corrosion and dust gathered on it.

Riggins says he has a petition signed by more than 400 Villages residents opposing the permit.

“;When I bought my home in 1974, I had no idea the quarry would still be there for my children and grandchildren,”; he said.

Grace Pacific has moved its hot-mix asphalt operations from the site to Campbell Industrial Park in response to complaints.

But it says the quarry is key to meeting construction demands, particularly for grade-A aggregate, which would cost much more if it had to be imported into the state.

The company has limited its hours, invested considerable money into new technology to mitigate its vibration impacts, and set up a community hot line.

Several Leeward-side neighborhood boards, including the Ewa, Nanakuli and Makakilo/Kapolei neighborhood boards, support granting Grace Pacific the permit.

The state Land Use Commission issued a special-use permit to Grace Pacific in November, allowing it to proceed with the city's conditional-use permit.

“;It's been very challenging getting to this point and trying to balance the needs of Oahu's construction industry with the needs of the community,”; said Grace Pacific Senior Vice President Robert Creps. “;Working with the community, however, has been a valuable process that we've appreciated, and we look forward to continuing it.”;

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Grace Pacific Corp. has set up a community hot line at 671-GRAC (4722).