East Hawaii News

Legislation Could Create Science and Technology Subzones

February 3, 2016, 5:59 PM HST
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An aerial view of the National Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority at Kona's Keahole Point. DBEDT photo.

An aerial view of the National Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority at Kona’s Keahole Point. DBEDT photo.

State Senators and Representatives are going over legislation that could create science and technology subzones in several areas around the state, including the astronomy precinct of the Mauna Kea science reserve and the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawai’i Authority Science and Technology Park in Kailua-Kona.

Similar measures in both the House and Senate passed initial readings last week. Several different sites around the state have already been identified as possible subzones. On the Big Island, those sites include the NELHA Geothermal Research Facility at Pohoiki, the University of Hawai’i at Hilo’s Hawai’i Innovation Center, and the Hale Pohaku Mid-Level Facility.

Other sites listed around the state would include the Manoa Innovation Center on Oahu and the Haleakala high altitude observatory site on Maui. If the legislation passes, future sites could be designated by 2017.

If the legislation passes, permits can be issued for “non-commercial activities related to the planning, development, and operation of a science and technology research facility for which a science and technology permit has been issued.” Potential health, socioeconomical, and environmental impacts would be taken into consideration, according to the bill.

The legislation also states that “Any decision made by an appropriate county authority or the board pursuant to a public hearing or hearings under this section may be appealed directly on the record to the intermediate appellate court for final decision and shall not be subject to a contested case hearing.”

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All designated subzones would be reviewed after 25 years.

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The house bill was introduced by Representative Mark Nakashima, who represents the Hamakua and Hilo districts. Representatives Nicole Lowen (Kailua-Kona, Holualoa, Kalaoa, Honokohau), Richard Onishi (Hilo, Kea’au, Kurtistown, Volcano), and Clift Tsuji (Keaukaha, Panaewa, Hilo, Waiakea) also attached their signatures to the bill.

Senate President Ronald Kouchi submitted the legislation in his chamber.

 

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