East Hawaii News

Paradise Helicopters Abandons Plan to Land in Royal Gardens

February 11, 2013, 10:39 AM HST
* Updated February 11, 10:41 AM
Listen to this Article
2 minutes
Loading Audio...
A
A
A

A Big Island helicopter tour company has decided to withdraw its application for permission to ferry tourists to the site of a lava-ravaged subdivision on the slopes of Kilauea volcano.

In a letter submitted Jan. 31 to the county Planning Department, Paradise Helicopters’ Director of Business Development Rob Payesko said the firm would no longer pursue the Special Permit allowing it to land at what was once the home of Jack Thompson, the last resident of the Royal Gardens subdivision.

Paradise Helicopters had been making the stops previously but applied for the permission early last year after being informed by the county that a permit from the Windward Planning Commission was required because the activity required flying over conservation areas.

Opposition to the plan was expressed by Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park and Kalapana resident John Carse.

Hawai’i Volcanoes had requested a contested case hearing on the application because of concerns of noise and other impacts resulting from the landings which would occur just outside the park’s boundaries.

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW AD

Although Thompson’s home was overrun by lava on March 2, 2012, the air tour company indicated that it still intended to pursue the landings.

The arrow shows the approximate location of Jack Thompson's property in what remains of the Royal Gardens subdivision. Modified Google Earth image. (Click to enlarge.)

The arrow shows the approximate location of Jack Thompson’s property in what remains of the Royal Gardens subdivision. Modified Google Earth image. (Click to enlarge.)

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW AD

According to a environmental assessment issued in July, the company said it still planned to build a landing platform to allow up to 24 passengers a day to visit Thompson’s property for “an up-close look at the stark contrast of the lava inundation in an area of tropical beauty with scenic vistas of the ocean.”

According to Payesko, the company has now decided that it would be too costly to go through a contested case hearing.

“We have concluded that we are unable to pursue the application because the process will require a greater financial investment than we are able to commit to at this time,” Payesko’s letter said.

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW AD

He also noted that even if the company should prevail at the hearing, the National Park Service would have an additional opportunity to negate the permit with the completion of a proposed Air Tour Management Plan which tentatively contains a half-mile buffer zone around park boundaries in which aircraft would be restricted.

Comments

This comments section is a public community forum for the purpose of free expression. Although Big Island Now encourages respectful communication only, some content may be considered offensive. Please view at your own discretion. View Comments

Newsletters

Get a quick summary of what’s happening on the Big Island with our daily & weekly email of news highlights.