HAWAII: A follow up to the heated public meeting filmed by Big Island Video news in Hilo last week.

This footage roused a firestorm of state-wide controversy over the Public Land Development Corporation.

It was the first in a statewide series of public meetings on the new rules for the PLDC. Many cringed at the apparent broad powers given to the new state agency.

Passed through the 2011 state legislature with astounding speed but little public fanfare, Act 55 created the Public Land Development Corporation, and was hailed by Governor Neil Abercrombie as a cornerstone of his New Day in Hawaii platform.

The agency will develop state lands and generate revenues for the Department of Land and Natural Resources. Through public-private partnerships, the corporation aims to attract private companies as joint partners in development opportunities.

But the reception the PLDC received on the Big Island may have caused the agency to balk at further filming of the hearings.

The people listen on at the Hilo PLDC meeting held last week

Civil Beat reported that PLDC officials were refusing to allow Olelo, Oahu’s public access television station, to broadcast Wednesday’s public meeting on its website and television channel.

The Sierra Club also wanted to make arrangements for an anticipated over flow crowd to the view the meeting on a monitor outside the conference room.

However, the PLDC – under pressure from community groups – later changed their minds and decided to allow Olelo to broadcast.

The PLDC also issued a media release through the Department of Land and Natural Resources on Monday, in which executive director Lloyd Haraguchi said many people attending the hearings to-date have misconceptions about why the PLDC was established and how it observes environmental laws.

He said “The PLDC is not exempt from federal laws, state environmental impact laws, nor state historic preservation laws. The PLDC is committed to working with county zoning and permitting requirements to ensure that its projects conform to county guidelines. PLDC is committed to doing what is pono for the people and the state; always being sensitive to the environment and culture of Hawai‘i.”

Thats pretty much what he told the crowd in Hilo before last week’s hearing.

Haraguchi also said the PLDC may waive its rules ONLY as it applies to Chapter 301, Rules of Practice and Procedure, and that the provision is in place to enable the PLDC Board to have greater flexibility in accepting testimony from the public. It does not apply to Chapter 302, Public Land Development Program, nor Chapter 303, Project Facility Program.

The executive director says lands under the PLDC are subject to the same requirements regarding payments to OHA as are other state lands.