Windward Oahu residents: Military’s ‘anti-terrorism’ fence is too big and too close to their homes

Federal regulations require an “anti-terrorism force protection” fence around the training area.
Published: Oct. 6, 2022 at 5:19 PM HST|Updated: Oct. 6, 2022 at 10:22 PM HST

KAILUA (HawaiiNewsNow) - The military has its marching orders to build a roughly 3-mile, 8-foot-high barbed wire fence around Marine Corps Training Area Bellows in Waimanalo.

Federal regulations require an “anti-terrorism force protection” fence around the training area.

But residents aren’t happy about it.

“They actually drilled holes across the property onto our property and I came out and they moved them back since,” said Keolu Hills resident Jeremy Rich.

He says the fence is going up too close to his property.

“I was a little upset. I heard it was supposed to be 30-feet back from the property line, but there are many cases where it seems not to be,” said Rich.

Lois Hewlett gathered with other neighbors Thursday who call it an eyesore.

“I’m horrified. I want to know why that fence is up there,” she said.

At a Kailua Neighborhood Board meeting Thursday night, residents also voiced their frustration to Marine Corps officials at not being told about the fence’s location.

Windward Oahu residents said that the fence is too big and too close to their homes.

“We hope that we are good neighbors to you. We want you to be good neighbors to us,” said Kailua resident James Ellman. “Good neighbors do not build eight-foot high barbed wire, razor wire fences along their neighbor’s property line.”

State Rep. Lisa Marten says the Marines told her the fence would be kept off the ridge facing the neighborhood, and also expressed her own frustration at getting answers.

“I am very angry,” Marten said at the meeting. “I have waited five weeks for the colonel or a representative.”

Marten said every step of the military’s “misinformation” had wasted money. “And it’s on you folks, wasting our taxpayer dollars by putting it in the wrong space because now we have to move it.”

In a statement, the Marine Corps said it is seeking to be transparent.

Marine Corps Base Hawaii Communication Strategy and Operations 1st Lt. Mark McDonough said in a statement:

Since before construction began on the Marine Corps Training Area Perimeter Fence project, Marine Corps Base Hawaii staff and personnel have worked hard to openly communicate and provide accurate information on the fence and its intended location to elected officials, residents, and adjacent landowners.

Meanwhile, McDonough also acknowledged that some voices weren’t heard.

“At the end of the day we want to say that we are sorry about that,” he said. “We want to be fully transparent with everything we’re doing.”

In an earlier statement, McDonough said that “the 30-foot setback is intended to give MCBH personnel room to maintain the fence as time goes on. This setback is being implemented along the entirety of the fence, except in locations where typography and other factors do not allow.”

The military said it has dealt with trespassing, poaching and illegal dumping and that the fence is all on federal property.

MCBH Kaneohe future plans officer Lt. Col. Caleb Eames said he is open to discussions on making the fence less visible. McDonough said there were discussions on moving parts of the fence, where possible.

Some Kailua residents remain hopeful that the fence line will be adjusted.

“We ask you as family now, to listen to us and maybe move ‘um just a little bit back,” said Kailua resident Jenna Oda. “I don’t think that’s too much to ask.”

The project is expected to be completed by next April.