Hawaii’s Board of Land and Natural Resources erred in approving a key permit

From Civil Beat
“Hawaii’s Board of Land and Natural Resources erred in approving a key permit for a controversial 14-story telescope currently under construction at the summit of Haleakala, the Hawaii Supreme Court ruled Friday.

The decision marks a major victory for Kilakila O Halealaka, a Native Hawaiian group on Maui that has been fighting for several years against the University of Hawaii Institute of Astronomy’s telescope.

Kilakila O Haleakala had requested a contested case hearing before the land board on the telescope’s conservation use permit. Instead, the board went ahead and approved the permit in December 2010 under then Chair Laura Thielen, effectively denying the group’s hearing request.

Kilakila O Halealaka, represented by the Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation, sued the state, arguing that the permit should have never been issued because the land board was required to hold a hearing and allow the group to present their arguments against the project.

Two lower courts previously ruled that they didn’t have jurisdiction in the case, allowing the permit to stand. But the Supreme Court disagreed, ruling that the courts did have jurisdiction in the matter and that there should have been a hearing before the board voted on the permit. NSF has approved funding of the project and the Final EIS has been issued. We are contesting their conservation permit with BLNR and public testimony will be accepted then. ”

See decision here.