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Wednesday, December 27, 2023

Kaʻū News Briefs December 27, 2023

Mahina & Her Moonset Viewed from Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park
Behind Mauna Loa, the setting of the moon, the mahina, was recorded Wednesday morning by National Park Service
photographer Janice Wei. Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park posted: "A hui hou (until we meet again) to the last full moon of
2023."  This mahina is also called the Cold Moon. See more at https://www.facebook.com/hawaiivolcanoesnps
Photo by Janice Wei/NPS

PEOPLE TAKING THE HELE-ON BUS FROM KAʻŪ TO HILO AND KONA CAN pick up bicycles at ten Bikeshare Stations in Hilo and 13 in Kona. These include new stations. Funding of $900.000 for the six new bikeshare stations, managed by the county Mass Transit Agency and  PATH - People for Active Transportation Hawai'i, comes through county Department of Public Works and state Department of  Transportation through the Transportation Alternatives Program.
    In 2016, PATH’s partnership with the County of Hawaii’s Research & Development Department piloted a bikeshare system in Kailua-Kona to test how bikeshare could work on Hawai’i Island, which was 

After riding the Hele-On to Hilo and Kona, passengers can pick up a free bicycle to
 ride. See https://www.heleonbus.hawaiicounty.gov/programs/hibike-bike-sharing
eventually expanded to the Hilo area. As part of this expansion, Mass Transit came on to start subsidizing the bikeshare operation, incorporating it into the family of services provided by the agency.
    "Since bikesharing promotes active, healthy transportation and exercise, it’s important to maintain this bikeshare system as part of Hawai’i County’s multi-mobility or multimodal transportation plan. Bikeshare stations are also incredibly beneficial in areas where a bus route may not make sense because the destination may be close enough to mainline transit. And establishing bikeshare stations near bus routes to get to and from an off-route location eliminates the need to deviate a mainline transit route," says a statement from PATH.
    With the new expansion of the HIBIKE program, PATH continues its partnership with the County of Hawai’i Mass Transit Agency under the leadership of Mass Transit Administrator Victor Kandle to provide Hele-On passengers with a viable transportation option that provides economic, health, and convenience benefits. Hele-On bus riders can continue to access HIBIKE Bikeshare at no additional cost. For free access, every Hele-On rider can ask bus operators for a code to use at the HIBIKE kiosks. This provides Hele-On passengers with unlimited 30-minute HIBIKE rides for up to 24 hours.
    A service of PATH and Hele-On, HIBIKE Bikeshare "is a form of mobility management ideal for anyone who wants to leave their car parked during a short trip or enhance their transportation options. In other cities with a bikeshare system, it’s been shown that local businesses benefit, with an increase in visibility on the street-level, because people are out of their cars and more aware of the businesses around them," says the PATH statement.
    For more information on the integration of the HIBIKE Bikeshare System, visit https://www.heleonbus.hawaiicounty.gov/programs/hibike-bike-sharing.
PATH and Hawai'i County have expanded free bicycle use in Hilo and Kona for riders of Hele-On Bus.
Photo from PATH

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A CONTESTED CASE HAS BEEN APPROVED for Ocean View residents opposing the location of construction of a new 150-foot cell phone tower within 500 feet of their homes. The Windward Planning Commission approved the proposal to file a contested case to challenge the tower during its meeting in December.
    The cell tower Petition for Standing was opposed by Renegade Towers, LLC, which owns a one-acre lot near St. Jude's Church and the county-owned Kahuku Park. Without "standing" the residents would not be permitted to have a contested case.
    In their Petition for Standing, four residents, Colleen Conifer, Donna Durgin, Dana Jackson and Al Sherman, stated that "close proximity to the proposed tower is what brings us to this meeting, and distinguishes our interests from that of the general public".
    The petition contends that, if the cell tower is built, it would have a negative effect on a "high use area," which includes Kahuku Park that provides recreation and "vital social community activities" such as basketball, pickleball, a childrens' playground, a gathering space for groups and a weekly food distribution
Last year, Windward Planning Commission approved
a Renegade Towers cell tower in upper Kaumana
in Hilo, recommending it be disguised as a tree. This year,
Rennegade's proposed tower for Ocean View has become
 a contested case. Photo from Nello Corp.

center for dozens of residents. The petitioners argue that St. Jude's Church would be affected. They also list five documented fires in cell phone towers nationwide in 2022 - 2023.
    According to the petitioners, more than 150 residents have signed a second petition against the tower citing a "negative impact on the residents, including health, safety and property values". Conifer and friends said they continue to collect signatures at the Saturday swap meet and at SolarWorks! in Ocean View.
    The four petitioners are asking the Commission to "reject the proposed site and instruct Renegade Towers to search for an appropriate location with a recommended minimum of 400 meters, 1320 feet, distance from homes and other high use areas in Ocean View." They wrote, "We ask that the Commission rules in favor of the people it serves over profits to a company that has no stake in our community's well being".
    In a letter to the Windward Planning Commission dated Dec. 6, Danette Martin, a consultant for Renegade Towers, opposed standing for the Ocean View petitioners, objecting to many of the petitioners' claims. Martin asserted that the tower would have no ill effects on the health, safety, property values and that towers are often located on school, park and church properties.
    At the Dec. 7 meeting of Windward Planning Commission in Hilo, Louis Daniele, the planning commissioner for the Ocean View area and manager of the Kaʻū Coffee Mill in Pāhala, made a motion to deny standing for the four Ocean View residents. He stated that he lives in upper HOVE and that he supports the construction of the cell phone tower. He
Opponents of the proposed location
of a cell tower in Ocean View are 
circulating this photo of a cell tower
on fire on the mainland.
alleged that hundreds of homes without cell service would have service with the new cell tower and claimed that the dead area for cell along highway 11 would be corrected.
    Before a vote was taken on Daniele's motion, the Commission held an executive session. Daniele said he was advised that the nearby residents have legal standing. He voted to the petitioners' standing. The Commission also agreed to mediation between Renegade Towers and the petitioners, using a professional mediator.
    Conifer told The Kaʻū Calendar that petitioners are waiting for the Planning Commission to contact them and that they expect to be allowed to select a mediator from a slate presented by the Commission.
    She also said that she and other opponents of the tower are concerned about a fire risk, saying, "We don't want any hazards built in the middle of our rural neighborhood when there are better alternatives." 
    Last year, Renegade Towers was given approval for a cell tower in upper Kaumana in Hilo with the Windward Planning Commission recommending that it be disguised as a tree.