(BIVN) – A permit to allow the construction of a water bottling facility in Hilo was denied by the Windward Planning Commission on Thursday. The company seeking the permit – Piʻilani Partners, LLC – requested that the commission reconsider a previous vote to defer making a decision on the matter.
Over 25 people testified against the permit during the hearing held at the Aupuni Center Conference Room in Hilo. Piʻilani Partners is seeking a Special Management Area Use Permit to develop a potable water well and bottling facility on vacant, industrial-zoned land between Wailoa River State Park and the Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium.
The company planned to draw water from an artesian water source, deep within the Mauna Kea aquifer.
During its February 7, 2019 meeting, the Windward Planning Commission deferred action on Piʻilani Partners’ request, putting off a decision until after the State Commission on Water Resource Management updates its Water Resource Protection Plan.
Attorney Pam Bunn, speaking on behalf of Piʻilani Partners, said the effect was to de facto deny the application. Bunn urged the commission to reconsider, to “apply the SMA criteria, and the planning department’s recommendation, and wait for the [State] Water Commission to rule on Piʻilani’s well permit.”
After hearing from the public and then going into a short executive session, the planning commissioners reconsidered their previous vote. Once the application was back on the table, Commissioner John Replogle made a motion to deny the permit. A grateful crowd of water protectors held back tears as Replogle detailed his reasons for denying the permit, and the commission supported the motion.