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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Thursday, October 11, 2001

Council suggests permit requirement for landfills

By Robbie Dingeman
Advertiser City Hall Writer

The Honolulu City Council's Zoning Committee is recommending that operators of all city and privately owned landfills be required to seek a permit that would need City Council approval.

The proposal partly comes out of frustration from the Wai'anae Coast community that the city is able to greatly expand the Waimanalo Gulch Sanitary Landfill without the permission of city lawmakers. The resolution to require the additional consideration now goes to the full City Council for final approval. No council opposition has emerged.

City Council Zoning Chairman John DeSoto proposed the new restrictions in response to complaints from his Leeward Coast community, already home to two landfills with a private company proposing a third. That construction-and-demolition-material landfill would be at the old Kaiser Cement quarry off Pa'akea Road.

The proposal notes that "both city and privately owned sanitary landfills have negative impacts on surrounding land uses, including dust, odors and flies, as well as noise from refuse trucks accessing the landfills."

City Planning and Permitting Director Randy Fujiki opposed the resolution. He said he doesn't think it's necessary to add another layer of regulation. "We feel it's a reasonable process."

He also said it's unclear how the resolution would affect the proposed Waimanalo Gulch landfill expansion. The city wants to expand the Kahe Valley landfill by 60.5 acres to provide space for O'ahu's rubbish though 2017. The landfill uses 86.5 acres at the 200-acre site, which is expected to reach capacity next year.

The public-comment period on the proposed expansion has been extended to Nov. 20. After that, the city will file its final environmental impact statement and apply for the appropriate government permits, some of which may require public hearings.

DeSoto said community members have felt that the city is not listening to them about concerns over the landfill. "No matter what we say and what we do, the landfill will stay where it is," he said.

Fujiki said he recommends keeping the approval process the way it is because landfills "can, at times, be a very political issue."

But DeSoto said the negative effects of sanitary landfills make it appropriate to require approval from the council. That kind of approval is required for hospitals, prisons, airports, colleges and universities and convention centers.