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Land Board Clears Way For 30m Telescope Construction

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The Land Board last week approved the staff recommendation and concluded administrative proceedings on all contested case requests related to TMT International Observatory’s sublease from the University of Hawaii to build the 30-meter telescope on Mauna Kea.

The board had tentatively approved the sublease on June 27, but stayed its effectiveness until the conclusion of any administrative proceedings on contested cases, said Department of Land and Natural Resources spokeswoman Deborah Ward. The consent is now effect, she said.

Requests for a contested case hearing on the decision were made at the June 27 meeting by the Flores-Case Ohana, Dan Purcell, Harry Fergerstrom, Kealoha Pisciotta for herself and on behalf of Clarence Kukauakahi Ching and Paul K. Neves, and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.

The petitioners claim interests stemming from customary and traditional beliefs, standing as beneficiaries in the ceded lands trust, and environmental concerns.


The DLNR’s Land Division recommended denial of the requests because the law makes no provision for contested case hearings on matters such as state subleases. The petitioners had “no right” to a contested case hearing, the DLNR’s report said, because a hearing was not legally required.

While supporters celebrated the decision and plans are being to start work on the $1.3 billion project as early as this fall, Pisciotta told Pacific Business News following the hearing that petitioners plan to file an appeal of the Land Board’s decision within 30 days.


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