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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, September 6, 2001

Ma'ili residents not sold on new landfill

By James Gonser
Advertiser Leeward Bureau

An updated presentation by Sphere LLC before the Wai'anae Coast Neighborhood Board on Tuesday did little to convince residents of the need for a landfill in Ma'ili or shed new light on the proposal.

By the end of the evening, the board had been presented with a petition containing the signatures of about 200 people opposed to the landfill.

Concerns were raised over the proximity of the site to Ma'ili Elementary School, while Sphere representative Lawrence Wilderman touted the economic benefit and said the company would do its best to avoid narrow Hakimo Road.

Following the meeting, board members, who heard a previous presentation on the project in 1998, said they did not have enough information to support or oppose the project and community concerns had not been fully addressed. The board deferred the matter to committee.

The company's plan to establish a construction and demolition material landfill site at the old Kaiser Cement quarry off Pa'akea Road would give the Leeward Coast three landfills — the only ones on O'ahu. And that was all some residents needed to know.

Ma'ili resident Linda Hai Hipp said the environment around Ma'ili Elementary School, about a half-mile from the proposed landfill, is already unhealthy with odors, flies and dust, and another landfill would only make the problems worse.

"This is dangerous for our children," said Hai Hipp. "If we add more dust, we add more problems."

Board member John Kaopua III supported the project, saying some of the illegal dumping in the area could be reduced by a new landfill, but several residents among the 50 people at the meeting rose to speak out against the plan.

The board, which has only advisory powers, has already voted to oppose the city's plans to increase the size of its Waimanalo Gulch Sanitary Landfill near Ko Olina by 60.5 acres. There's also the PVT Landfill, which operates on 135 acres in Lualualei and is used to bury construction and demolition debris.

Residents have raised a number of concerns about the proposed landfill, including taking agricultural land for industrial use, routing trucks carrying 30 to 40 tons of material over substandard roads and possible harm to water, drainage and air quality.

Board member Patty Teruya said large trucks would need to use Hakimo Road to reach the new landfill, driving past private schools and homes. Teruya said Hakimo Road is too narrow to safely handle the traffic.

"The road can't handle," Teruya said. "There are no sidewalks. It is very congested."

Wilderman said he is negotiating with Hawaiian Cement to use a section of Pa'akea Road, which connects with Lualualei Naval Road for trucks using the landfill, thus avoiding Hakimo Road altogether.

Before the meeting, Wilderman said a new landfill would create competition and would help bring down prices. It would also bring jobs into the economically depressed area.

He admitted the timing for the project was bad amid discussions about expanding the city landfill, but said the landfill is needed. Only construction materials would be accepted at the landfill, he said.

"Come and see what we are doing," Wilderman said during the meeting. The site "is a huge hole and useless for agriculture."

The 208-acre site is zoned for agricultural use, but has been a quarry site since 1959. According to Sphere, the site could take at least 200,000 tons a year for 14 years before filling up.

The project still needs city land use permits and a landfill permit from the state Department of Health, company representative Bernie Kim said. If all permits are granted, the landfill could be open in a couple of years, the company said.

Reach James Gonser at jgonser@honoluluadvertiser.com or 988-1383.