About The Kaʻū Calendar

Ka`u, Hawai`i, United States
A locally owned and run community newspaper (www.kaucalendar.com) distributed in print to all Ka`u District residents of Ocean View, Na`alehu, Pahala, Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park, Volcano Village and Miloli`i on the Big Island of Hawai`i. This blog is where you can catch up on what's happening daily with our news briefs. This blog is provided by The Ka`u Calendar Newspaper (kaucalendar.com), Pahala Plantation Cottages (pahalaplantationcottages.com), Local Productions, Inc. and the Edmund C. Olson Trust.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Ka`u News Briefs September 22, 2011


Money from the state, federal and county governments would buy Kawa lands to protect the wetlands and restore
endangered species.  Photo by Julia Neal
THE FUTURE OF KAWA comes up before the state Board of Land & Natural Resources tomorrow at its meeting in Honolulu. Longtime Kawa resident Abel Simeona Lui said he will attend the meeting to object to the state releasing funding to the county for the purchase of more than 550 acres there. He is asking for a contested case hearing. 
     The state received funding to help buy the coastal property from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. The county and state are also chipping in. A letter from the Department of Forestry & Wildlife describes the purchase as a joint effort “to protect wetland and coastal habitat on the island of Hawai`i.” The land would be managed for endangered species recovery.
     Lands at Kawa would also be preserved for surfing, fishing and walking along the Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail.
     Lui is asking for a contested case to prevent the acquisition, claiming family ownership. The state attorney general’s office researched the case and gave its opinion, contending that there is no reason for a contested case as the state does not involve itself in land ownership disputes. Paul Conry, administrator for the Division of Forestry and Wildlife, recommended against Lui’s request for a contested case hearing. Lui said he will sue the BLNR if it denies him the hearing.
     The county is purchasing the property from the Olson Trust, which bought it for preservation after former owners put it on the market, advertising it to developers. The county already purchased the adjacent 235 acres from Marcia Johnson, who formerly operated a real estate company in Ka`u. 

INCREASED BUILDING PERMIT FEES were defeated yesterday. The bill before the County Council would have piled thousands of dollars of impact fees onto the construction of even the smallest owner-built home. Voting against the bill were Dominic Yagong, Angel Pilago, J Yoshimoto, Fresh Onishi and Dennis Ikeda. Ka`u’s County Council member Brittany Smart voted for the fees, along with Brenda Ford, Pete Hoffmann and Fred Blas. 
County Council member J Yoshimoto
     According to a Stephens Media report, Yoshimoto said, “I think we are imposing a fee on the people who can least afford it…. This fee, while good-intentioned, basically prevents people from getting a start and owning their own home.”
     The proposed fees would have cost $4,471 for a house 1,000 square feet or smaller, and $7,026 for a house 3,500 square feet or larger. Fees would have been charged on the building of churches, community centers, hospital rooms and visitor accommodations and any renovations that would have added living space. It would have also established impact fees on new commercial and industrial space.
     Those supporting the fees contended that the county needs the money to help pay for roads, solid waste disposal, sewers, fire, police and other basic services tied to population growth. They said they wanted to reduce the temptation to raise property taxes on existing homeowners to pay for the increased cost of services.
     The current way in which the county raises money for public infrastructure in connection with development happens with new zoning approvals.

HERE IS MORE ON THE BIOFUELS MEETING sponsored by `Aina Koa Pono this past Monday, regarding their plan to build a refinery and farm in Ka`u.

DEBORAH "KEPI" DAVIS, a retired National Park Service archaeologist, said she is concerned about the cultural history of Ka`u and of Ka`u as a historic district. She pointed out that the use of any state funds would trigger an Environmental Impact Statement and the use of any federal funds would trigger an EIS as well as Section 106 consultation. She said Section 106 requires one-on-one interviews with native Hawaiians before proceeding with the project. She provided a list of the recently appointed Hawaiian Roll Call commissioners and suggested AKP representatives talk with them. She asked AKP representatives, and they did publicly state, that they are using no state and federal funds.

RALPH GASTON, who works with Rusty’s Hawaiian 100 Percent Ka`u Coffee, asked AKP representatives about the purpose of their meeting with the public. “Is this all about avoiding an EIS?” he asked.

Renowned furniture maker Marcus Castaing
with hardwood trees he planted.
MARCUS CASTAING, who said he has lived in Wai`ohinu for more than 30 years, said that AKP planned to cut down nuisance trees to make biofuel. He said that “anything that is growing here and protecting the land is helping keep this place green.... You cannot go raping the land,” he said. 

CHRIS ELDRIDGE, partner of `Aina Koa Pono, promised the community maps of intended tree clearing on the land. Concerns were raised over cutting down invasive trees due to their role in retaining rainwater and preventing rainwater from converting into runoff.

THE 85-FOOT SMOKESTACK planned for the refinery also drew concern. AKP representatives said the stack is for a small power plant that would operate the refinery. Federal air quality regulations require the smokestack to be 1.5 times the height of the tallest building at the refinery. It would release CO2 into the air for which `Aina Koa Pono has asked for a pollution permit. Bill Kucharski, director of Renewable Energy Pacific for AECOM, the firm selected by `Aina Koa Pono to engineer its refinery, described it as a minor source of air pollution. He said emissions would be below the federal standard of 100 tons of pollutants in the air per year. Kucharski also addressed concerns over the 1.25-million-gallon storage tanks for the biodiesel. He said the tanks would comply with Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasures requirements laid down by the Environmental Protection Agency. The tanks would be designed to satisfy building requirements for earthquake zones as well, said Kucharski.

`AINA KOA PONO representatives addressed claims that the proposed biofuel production is associated with the military, as some of the partners are retired military. President and CEO of the company Melvin Chiogioji said that the military is not involved with the AKP project, but that the military has done research related to biofuel production that might be helpful. AKP representatives also said that no military or other federal money is being used for the project.

LAVA IS ONCE AGAIN FLOWING from Pu`u `O`o Crater. If the flows advance, they will likely continue southeast toward the Royal Gardens subdivision, according to the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory website. 

The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, next to Jaggar Museum, is sponsoring
a poster contest in advance of its centennial celebration.
Photo courtesy of USGS
THE HAWAIIAN VOLCANO OBSERVATORY is sponsoring a poster contest for fourth-grade students in advance of its centennial celebration in January. “We chose this grade level because volcanic processes and scientific observation are topics included in Hawai`i’s fourth-grade curriculum,” said centennial poster contest coordinator Janet Babb. 
     Award-winning and honorable mention posters will be displayed at KTA Super Stores around the island in January. The award-winning posters will also be featured on HVO’s website.
     Complete contest details and submission guidelines are available online at http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov/education/postercontest2011 or by contacting Babb at 967-8844 or jbabb@usgs.gov. 

VOLCANO ART CENTER hosts a poetry slam tomorrow from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at its Niaulani Campus in Volcano Village. Up to 15 poets chosen at random perform their works, with prizes awarded to the top finishers. Call 967-8222 for more information.

ENTRIES FOR THE KA`U CHAMBER OF COMMERCE’S Directory 2012 Art Contest must be delivered to the Ka`u Federal Credit Union office in Na`alehu this Saturday between 9:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. They will be on display for voting by the public next Monday through Saturday during credit union business hours, and the winner will be announced at the End of Show Celebration on Saturday, Oct. 1 from noon to 2 p.m. For more information, call Wanda Aus at 929-9139.