HILO, Hawaii – The contested case hearing over a permit that would allow the Thirty Meter Telescope to be built on Mauna Kea continued in Hilo on Friday, although there was debate over a court decision made on a different TMT-related matter the day before.
On Thursday, Third Circuit Court Judge Greg Nakamura ruled that the Board of Land and Natural Resources violated the constitutional rights of E Kalani Flores in 2014 when it denied his request for a contested case hearing before consenting to the University of Hawai’i sublease of the summit-area land to TMT International Observatory, LLC.
The ruling was oral and a written decision was not yet available at the start of today’s proceedings in Hilo, which deals with a conservation district use permit for Mauna Kea, applied for by the University on behalf of the $1.4 billion TMT observatory.
“I need to work off a written order because I need to see what was ordered,” hearing officer Judge Riki May Amano (ret.) said Friday morning, after some participants asked to postpone the proceeding.
The TMT International Observatory (TIO) is participating in the ongoing contested case, along with several other parties. A number of the parties opposed to the project on Mauna Kea cited Nakamura’s ruling as the reason to remove TIO as a participant in the contested case proceeding.
“The basis for (TIO’s) intervening was that they had obligations and rights under a contract,” said Lanny Sinkin on behalf of participant Temple of Lono, which filed a motion on the matter asking for the removal of TIO. “The contract they refer to is the sublease. If the sublease is no longer valid, than their whole reason for being here is no longer valid.”
“Its out of order,” TIO attorney Douglas Ing said of the motion. “I will note that Minute Order 13, which is the minute order that allowed intervention for a number of parties, admitted TIO on a basis of substantial interest, not on the basis of a property interest.”
“Nevertheless, we still have a property interest,” Ing added.
The University of Hawaii noted Thursday that it still has a sublease with TMT that it is subject to BLNR consent, and that the judge ruled on the consent of the sublease and not the sublease itself.
Amano went ahead with the contested case proceeding Friday, in which TIO called its first witness: David M. Callies, a law professor at the William S. Richardson School of Law, University of Hawaii at Manoa, who teaches courses in state and local government, land use, and property law.