Opponents question PLDC's power at public hearing - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Opponents question PLDC's power at public hearing

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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

Already mired in controversy, the Public Land Development Corporation heard more opposition and more calls for the entity to be abolished at a public hearing on Tuesday.

Some opponents said the PLDC will wield too much power.

"There's a lot of bureaucratic regulations.  But instead of trying to fix them. they're trying to bypass them," Surfrider Foundation Hawaii coordinator Stuart Coleman said.

The public hearing was for discussing the adopting of rules on how the board will enlist help from private companies to develop unused and underutilized public lands, like some public school properties and some coastal lands.

"Some of what PLDC does is provide that financing mechanism to allow some of these projects to move forward, and to attract the private investors to come in and work with the state on building these projects," said Kika Bukoski of the Hawaii Building & Construction Trades Council.

But detractors, including some from the neighbor islands, told PLDC members there's no legal obligation that holds the corporation to its strategic plan.

"You're making a promise to the public, saying, 'Don't worry.  We're not going to do this on important ag land.' But it some ways it's almost an abuse of the public's trust," Sierra Club Hawaii executive director Robert Harris said.

"It allows a group of five people, with as few as three people making sweeping decisions to Kauai's use of its natural resources," Kauai resident Karlos deTreaux said.

Farm bureau president Dean Okimoto supports PLDC.  He said the state's idea of public-private partnerships could get bio-security facilities built to guard against invasive species.

"We have the land, but we don't have the money to build the facility itself," he said.  "But there are private industries that would look at building it."

The corporation will review the testimony then decide on its rules at its next meeting.
Judging by the tenor of Tueday's testimony, opposition is holding its ground.

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