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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, November 12, 2002

UH seeks limit in Mauna Kea case

Advertiser Staff and News Services

HILO, Hawai'i — The University of Hawai'i wants to limit the scope of a contested case hearing on the proposed NASA outrigger telescope project on Mauna Kea.

A motion filed on behalf of the university asks a hearings officer to restrict the evidence that can be submitted during the hearing tomorrow in Hilo. The university manages astronomy activities on the summit of the dormant Big Island volcano.

NASA has proposed providing money for the $50 million project to construct up to six "outrigger" telescopes around the perimeter of the twin Keck observatory. The addition of the six-foot dishes would boost the observatory's light-gathering capability.

Michael Gibson of Honolulu will preside over tomorrow's session 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. tomorrow at the County Council Room, 256 Aupuni St., Hilo. The session will set up the contested case hearing scheduled to start Feb. 10.

Four groups and two individuals have been granted standing in the contested case hearing on the university's request for a conservation district use permit. The groups are the Big Island chapter of the Sierra Club, the Royal Order of Kamehameha and Mauna Kea Ainaina Hou, opposing the proposed expansion, and the Hawai'i Island Economic Development Board supporting it.

The university's motion says the Sierra Club and others have indicated that the scope of the hearing should encompass not just the outrigger project, but revisit all summit development issues.

But a motion filed in response by the Sierra Club maintains that the state Board of Land and Natural Resources, which has the final say on the conservation district use permit, should consider only how and whether the NASA project meets conditions set forth in the master plan.