City responds to rail land permit concerns

Evelyn Souza
Evelyn Souza

KAPOLEI (HawaiiNewsNow) - Zoned agriculture land has specific requirements so rail opponents question how equipment is able to be stored on farmland.

There is no question rail contractor Kiewit Infrastructure West is storing equipment, machinery and supplies on the land at the corner of Farrington Highway and Pipeline Road.  The Honolulu Department of Planning and Permitting says Kiewit got a temporary use permit to do so back in December 2010 but the time limit has passed so Kiewit has applied for a special use permit.  However that permit application is in the middle of an open public comment period that closes May 18. Since the special use permit has not been approved concerned citizens wondered what's up.

"It's not about the rail per se, it's about agricultural land being misused and not conforming to what the law dictates," said Evelyn Souza, Makakilo, Kapolei, Honokai Hale Neighborhood Board member.

Souza also works for City Councilman Tom Berg who also has concerns about the land.

"This is the elephant in the room. Why is everything seeming to have been back doored, secretly done away with, so many question marks, so many from the very get go," said Souza. "I don't want to be an obstructionist. I think there are other things we can do and make it right. Just make it right."

The Department of Planning and Permitting says Kiewit was given more than two extensions on the temporary land use permit which allows them to continue using the land.

"The City Department of Planning and Permitting initially determined that a 6-month use did not trigger a permit (SUP) for the temporary test-boring stage of the rail project.  When the use extended beyond 6 months, the DPP determined that an SUP was required.  The use is allowed to continue until an SUP application is submitted and acted upon.  The contractor can use the site to store equipment, materials and vehicles through the end of the year, or until a special use permit is issued," said the Department in an email response.

We also asked about the other concern which was storing tractors and equipment on the farm land even after crews were done working for the day.  A HART spokesman says Kiewit was given permission by landowner DR Horton to temporarily park and store the machines by the construction site.  Hart and Kiewit say they are in full compliance with the law.

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