East Hawaii News

Sublease for Thirty Meter Telescope On Hold

June 13, 2014, 7:14 PM HST
* Updated June 13, 7:18 PM
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The state Board of Land and Natural Resources today declined to vote on the issuing of a sublease for the Thirty Meter Telescope until several legal issues could be resolved.

The University of Hawaii, which holds the state lease on the 11,215-acre Mauna Kea Science Reserve, has asked the land board to approve a sublease for a period of nearly 20 years for the $1.3 billion observatory.

The UH Board of Regents in February approved the sublease of five acres located near the summit of the 13,796-foot dormant volcano.

William Aila Jr., director of the Department of Land and Natural Resources, said there are three issues that need to be resolved before the land board takes up the matter again.

One involves an independent appraisal of the value of the telescope to aid the board in determining the amount of the lease payment.

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Another is whether the possibility that federal funds might be used for the telescope brings the National Historic Preservation Act into play.

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The third involves the term of the sublease and its relation to a pending request from UH for an extension of the lease for the science reserve.

Aila said the university was asked to research the issues and then present its findings to the board.

The land board previously issued a permit allowing preliminary construction to begin at the TMT site. A circuit court judge in April rejected an appeal of that permit.

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