Planning Commission panel recommends HOVE mining expansion

HILO — A Windward Planning Commission panel is recommending cinder and rock mining operations be allowed to expand in Hawaiian Ocean View Estates, but the full commission wants to see the area for itself before it votes on the recommendations.

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HILO — A Windward Planning Commission panel is recommending cinder and rock mining operations be allowed to expand in Hawaiian Ocean View Estates, but the full commission wants to see the area for itself before it votes on the recommendations.

The commission on Thursday decided to continue the contested case hearing — a court-like process that includes witnesses, oral arguments and lots of legal documents — until Feb. 4. The commission has been mulling the case since June.

In the meantime, the entire commission plans to visit the rural subdivision Jan. 15 to see the mining operations and their impacts on the privately owned roads in the subdivision.

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, are seeking special use permits. Mining has gone on in the area since the late 1950s.

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 for operating without a zoning permit.

The permits are opposed by some neighbors, who worry about increased noise and dust.

Neighbors John Dancell and Debbie Sheldon told the commission Thursday that the dust from the mines infiltrates their homes and coats surfaces. Their children have asthma and other breathing problems, they said.

“If you folks were living in my house, how would you feel?” Dancell asked. “It’s directly across the street from my house.”

The HOVE Road Maintenance Corp., which is charged with collecting assessments from property owners and maintaining 157 miles of private roads in the subdivision, also objects to the permits. It can access heavy trucks annually to traverse the roadways. But the road company has been unable to strike an agreement on increased mining activities and intervened in the case in the hopes of raising the road fees.

A three-member panel of the six-member commission Nov. 30 issued a 41-page finding and recommendation that the companies be allowed to expand operations. The finding sets certain requirements, such as setbacks and buffers, dust control, mining be limited to 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and an annual report to the Planning Department.

“The quarry operations proposed in both Arrow and the Rodrigueses’ applications are uses that meet the criteria for issuing a Special Permit,” states the report, signed by Presiding Officer Myles Miyasato.

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The mining companies didn’t resist the delay. Roy Vitousek, representing Arrow, said the commission is taking a careful and deliberate look at the case before making a decision.

“The commission should get whatever information it needs to make the right decision,” Vitousek said.

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