HOVE mining expansion creates controversy

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The board that controls the roads in Hawaiian Ocean View Estates has successfully petitioned to intervene in administrative hearings over expansion of mining activities in the neighborhood.

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The board that controls the roads in Hawaiian Ocean View Estates has successfully petitioned to intervene in administrative hearings over expansion of mining activities in the neighborhood.

The Windward Planning Commission on Thursday unanimously agreed to let the HOVE Road Maintenance Corp. provide evidence and question witnesses in what is likely to become a protracted legal battle over applications to enlarge areas of cinder and rock quarrying operations by two companies in the private subdivision.

HOVE Road Maintenance Corp. is charged with collecting assessments from property owners and maintaining 157 miles of private roads in the subdivision. It can also assess heavy trucks $1,000 per vehicle annually to traverse the roadways.

But the road company has been unable to strike an agreement on increased activities with mining companies Arrow of Oregon and David and Laura Rodrigues, which are mining in two separate areas, primarily along Lurline Lane, Kailua Boulevard and Liliana Lane. Mining has gone on in the area since the late 1950s, according to one HOVE resident.

“It’s considered an appropriate diversification of agriculture land,” said Peter Dahlberg, an engineer representing the mining companies.

Dahlberg said the mining companies have agreed to setbacks from the roads and other safety measures, but they aren’t enough for the road company.

“They’re asking for a lot of expensive tests that are not relevant to the mining activity,” he said.

Arrow is trying to expand its permit by an additional 8 acres, bringing the total mined to 13 acres. The Rodrigues company is seeking a special use permit to mine 5 acres, after it was shut down in October for operating without a zoning permit.

Jill Raznov, a Hilo attorney representing the road company, said the mining companies haven’t always lived up to their word, and the road company needs to be able to set parameters to help regulate their activity.

“These must be mandated and required to ensure the safety of life and property,” Raznov said. “We’re talking about a history of noncompliance.”

Joe Chamberlain, 90, owner of Arrow, acknowledged there were problems with his mining activity early on. But he said his company, which recently laid off four high-paid workers, simply can’t afford to do more testing and reporting than is currently required.

“I did make a mistake on one of the quarries some time back,” Chamberlain said. “I do try to follow the rules.”

David Rodrigues said his company was operating on a grading permit the county Department of Public Works granted his father in the early 1990s. The family-owned mine is more than 30 years old.

“We are willing to work with Hawaiian Ocean View Estates Road Maintenance Corp. for a fair assessment,” Rodrigues said.

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The parties will continue to work to strike a deal before their next scheduled appearance before the commission on Sept. 3.

“We’re not trying to put anyone out of business,” Raznov said.

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