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.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Ka`u News Briefs September 21, 2011

Pete Hunter, of Eke Nui Mango Farm in Na`alehu, asks the PUC to wait until the EA is done before deciding
on the `Aina Koa Pono contract.  Photo by Julia Neal
IMPACT FEES that would drive up the cost of building new houses and other buildings were scheduled for first reading by the County Council today at its Kona meeting. The proposal would have the county levy $4,471 for a house 1,000 square feet or smaller. Impact fees charged to new homebuilders would be $7,026 for a house 3,500 square feet or larger. 
     Renovations that increase the size of housing units would also be impacted.
     County fees would also raise the cost of building new multi-family dwellings, motels and hotels. Nursing homes, schools, hospitals and churches would also be hit with the impact fees. New construction of stores, offices, and any other commercial building, as well as industrial and warehouse structures would be charged. Impact fees for these buildings would range from $1,080 to $5,451 per 1,000 square feet. 
The cost of building additions and new buildings would
go up with new building fees to be paid before
building permits are issued.
     Council member Pete Hoffmann introduced the bill, saying that the county needs a way to pay for infrastructure, tied to the growth in population. Tying fees to construction of new places for people to stay or live is a direct way to keep up with building roads, parks, solid waste, police, fire and other county infrastructure and services, he said.
     Council member Brittany Smart voted for the bill in committee. Council members Donald Ikeda, Fresh Onishi and J Yoshimura voted against the measure, saying it would make it difficult for people to build homes and hurt the already decimated construction industry.
     The impact fees would be used in the communities on the island in which they are collected.
     One concern is whether the system would make the county dependent on constant growth – the construction of new buildings - to keep up with its infrastructure expenses.

TOWING DRUNKEN DRIVERS’ cars may be the next move to reduce traffic deaths on Big Island highways. According to County Council member Brenda Ford, this county has the highest rate of deaths from drunken driving in the country. The bill would give the police officers stopping drunken drivers the option of having the car towed and impounded. The owner of the vehicle would have to pay for towing and storage fees and have 30 days to retrieve the vehicle.
     The towing would also be allowed for vehicles driven by persons with suspended or no drivers’ licenses, and those with fake license plates, emblems or tags. The bill passed Council Committee 9-0 and will be sent to the full Council for final passage and then to the mayor for final signature.

Ledward Kaapana
LEDWARD KAAPANA, the master of `ukulele and slack key guitar, a teacher at musical workshops in Pahala, as well as concerts and backyard parties throughout Ka`u, receives a national honor today in the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center in Washington, D.C. 
     Kaapana, a Big Island native, has earned the National Endowment of the Arts 2011 National Heritage Fellowship Award and a check for $25,000.
     A concert honoring Kaapana and other recipients will be streamed live from Washington – from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Ka`u time this Friday. For the link to the live broadcast, see arts.gov/honors/heritage. An archive of the concert will be available after the event.

HERE IS MORE ON THE `AINA KOA PONO MEETING held on Monday in Pahala regarding the proposed refinery between Pahala and Wood Valley and the biofuel farm proposed for lands between Pahala and Na`alehu.

THE REFINERY would use 4.5 tons a day of zeolite in its processing of biomass into biodiesel. The zeolite could be shipped in from China or the U.S. mainland, said `Aina Koa Pono CEO Melvin Chiogioji. He said the U.S. Navy is working on a synthetic zeolite that could possibly be available for `Aina Koa Pono’s use. He explained that zeolite is comprised of aluminum, calcium and silica. It was compared to sand. “You have sand here,” said Chiogioji. Zeolite would help to change the structure of the feedstock to make the biofuel.

BIOCHAR was another point of discussion. `Aina Koa Pono representatives said they are looking for a market for biochar, the major bi-product that would be generated by the refinery. The biochar was described as a valuable soil amendment that acts like a magnet for nutrients for crops. An `Aina Koa Pono representative said that some experiments show plants growing two to three times faster with the addition of biochar to the soil. It was also put forth that the biochar binds fertilizer to the soil, so that the fertilizer doesn’t flow away during rain.
     `Aina Koa Pono engineer Alexander Causey said at the last community meeting that 900 tons of feedstock a day processed in microwave ovens would generate 72,000 gallons of synthetic diesel, plus 600 to 1,000 pounds of biochar. The rate of production would be 80 gallons of biofuel per ton of feedstock. Ten pounds of feedstock would create three lbs of fuel, four lbs of char and 1.5 lbs of non-condensable material, he said.

Sophia Hanoa called for an EIS.  Photo from Big Island
Video News
SOPHIA HANOA, of Pahala, took on the `Aina Koa Pono representatives during the community meeting, challenging `Aina Koa Pono to produce a full Environmental Impact Statement. `Aina Koa Pono announced that it would hire an independent company to write an Environmental Assessment. Chris Eldridge, a partner in `Aina Koa Pono, asked Hanoa why she wants an Environmental study. She replied, “Because I am born, raised and I will die here.” She claimed that Eldridge told her earlier that `Aina Koa Pono did not want to do an EIS because “we don’t have the money, and we don’t have the time.” 

PETE HUNTER, of Eke Nui Mango Farm in Na`alehu, said the Public Utilities Commission should wait for the Environmental Assessment to be completed before issuing its decision on whether to approve the contract between `Aina Koa Pono and Hawaiian Electric Company and the proposal to allow the utility to raise rates to pay for the biofuel once `Aina Koa Pono delivers it to Hawaiian Electric.
     `Aina Koa Pono representatives said the EA and the PUC decision are unrelated.
     The gathering was organized as a District 6 Matters meeting by County Council member Brittany Smart, who said that more meetings will be held on the subject in the future.
     See more in tomorrow’s Ka`u News Briefs.