TMT Contested Case Hearing Gets Underway
The long-awaited Board of Land and Natural Resources Contested Case Hearing on the Thirty Meter Telescope got off to a slow start on Thursday, Oct. 20, in the Crown Room at the Naniloa in Hilo, Hawai‘i.
With more than a dozen case petitioners now involved and many of them representing themselves, much of the day was spent sorting through documents, exhibits as well as learning the contested case hearing process.
The University of Hawai‘i’s first witness, Perry J. White, principal planner of Planning Solutions Inc., took the stand.
PSI provides environmental and land use planning services and permits.
Only nine of the more than a dozen petitioners had the opportunity to cross-examine White.
During cross-examination, White was asked if he thought both the telescope and native practices could coexist.
“Not if co-existence means everyone gets 100% of what they want,” White replied.
White went on to say that if a compromise is made and everyone comes together, he does believe coexistence is possible.
Petitioner Pua Case asked White during her cross-examination if he believed Mauna Kea was sacred.
White defined sacred as something with, “particular spiritual importance.”
Before he could answer whether he personally believes the mountain is sacred, objections were raised and once again petitioners were asked to stick with White’s direct testimony.
According to White, the amount of land needed for the project would be approximately five acres. He said the five acres would include the telescope, support buildings and parking lots; everything except the access road.
Case asked White about the scale of this project. White said the height is expected to be 187 feet, approximately 18 stories high.
Case asked how many stories underground the structure would extend, but it was left undetermined.
Case also questioned White about the temporary effects Native Hawaiian practitioners would experience over the years of construction needed to complete the project.
White said that nothing would be detrimental to the practitioners’ health or welfare, pausing before stating that he was not qualified to say if there would be any impacts on protocol or ceremony of Native Hawaiian practitioners.
Retired Hawai‘i Island Circuit Court Judge Riki May Amano referred to herself as, “the fact finder,” while emphasizing throughout the day that under oath testimony and the exhibits are the only factors in how she will rule on this case.
When the case continues Monday morning, Oct 24, at 9 a.m., White will return to the stand, followed by University of Hawai‘i President David McClain and the remainder of the UH witness list.
The hearing is scheduled for Monday through Thursday, Oct. 24 through 27, 31, Nov. 2, 21, 22, 23 and 28, 2016, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
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