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Controversial Agency To Consider Rule Changes Oct. 11

October 1, 2012, 12:13 PM HST (Updated October 1, 2012, 12:28 PM)
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The Public Land Development Corp. will meet Oct. 11 in Honolulu to consider the approval of a strategic plan as well as some changes to its draft administrative rules.

The controversial new agency issued a statement Saturday night saying that it was posting notice of its next board meeting early – “well before the six-day notice” required by the state’s Sunshine Law — to give the public “ample time” to submit comments on the plan and rule amendments.

The statement said the proposed amendments to the PLDC’s operating rules will reflect the strategic plan and address concerns raised at public hearings held by PLDC Executive Director Lloyd Haraguchi on the draft rules across the state.

Testimony at the August hearing on the Big Island and elsewhere in the state was was overwhelmingly critical of the PLDC and its administrative rules.

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Gov. Neil Abercrombie, who in 2011 signed Act 55, the state law authorizing the PLDC, was a recipient of some that ire on Kauai on Aug. 19. Although the agency’s public hearing there wasn’t scheduled until later in the month, Abercrombie, who had brought his cabinet for a talk-story session, was heckled and booed over the PLDC and its enabling legislation.

Part of the reason for Abercrombie’s treatment on Kauai could be attributed to comments he made several days earlier calling critics of the agency the “usual suspects” who took advantage of the hearings to create “conspiratorial hysteria.”

Some critics of the PLDC have called for the abolishment of Act 55. Those include Hawaii County Councilwoman Brenda Ford, who has introduced a non-binding resolution urging the Legislature to disband the PLDC.

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Ford’s resolution will be taken up at a council meeting Wednesday in Hilo.

The PLDC was created, its backers say, to create public-private partnerships to generate badly needed revenues for the state Department of Land and Natural Resources from what they call underutilized state lands. Abercrombie has said that the public corporation has the ability to reduce government bureaucracy.

Critics of the agency have railed against vague wording in the draft administrative rules as well as the law exempting the agency from some state environmental laws as well as county zoning and subdivison regulations.

The backlash at public hearings also prompted Big Island state Sen. Malama Solomon to propose creation of a strategic plan to help dispel what she called “so much misinformation” about the corporation’s mission.

In Saturday’s statement, Kalbert Young, director of the state Department of Budget and Finance and the chairman of the PLDC’s Board of Directors, said the proposed changes will address “the issues – and many misconceptions – that have been raised” in public hearings.

“We have heard the concerns of the community, and the PLDC board will now consider adoption of a strategic plan to better define what the PLDC can and cannot do,” Young said.

The draft strategic plan is available on its website listing for items accompanying the agenda for the Sept. 20 meeting.

According to the agenda for the Oct. 11 meeting, proposed changes to the draft administrative rules include removal of a section which called for the agency’s delegation of authority to its administrator “as it deems reasonable and proper” to effectively carry out Act 55.

Another proposed change include deleting of a section requiring 20 days advance notice for public testimony on meeting agendas and a requirement that the agency maintain a list of persons requesting notification of board meetings.

A proposed addition would limit testimony at PLDC meetings to subjects on the agenda and allow its administrator to limit the amount of time allowed each testifier.

The amendments include removal of the words “development” and “developer,” which in some cases are replaced by “project” and “project partner,” respectively.

The Oct. 11 meeting agenda and proposed changes to administrative rules is available at http://hawaii.gov/dlnr/pldc/meetings.

Testimony can be submitted by email to Joy Kimura at joy.y.kimura@hawaii.gov or faxed to 808-587-0390.

 

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