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Hawaiian Cement permit for quarry operations approved

Sierra Club raises concern about Hawaiian bees in area

Hawaiian Cement’s quarry in Waikapu is shown. The state Land Use Commission last week unanimously approved a 15-year time extension on a permit that lets the company continue rock quarry and concrete recycling operations at the site. Image courtesy of Munekiyo Hiraga

The state Land Use Commission unanimously approved a 15-year time extension on a permit that lets Hawaiian Cement continue rock quarry and concrete recycling operations at Pohakea Quarry in Waikapu.

Despite a last-minute request by the Sierra Club to survey the area for Hawaiian yellow-faced bees, the commission voted 8-0 during its meeting on June 9 to extend Hawaiian Cement’s state special use permit to Dec. 15, 2035.

The commission also added a provision that the company consult with the state Department of Land and Natural Resources and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service with “regard to the issue raised on yellow-faced bees.”

Haiku resident Lucienne de Naie, who testified on behalf of Sierra Club Maui Group, said endangered species of flora and fauna live in Pohakea Gulch and surrounding areas. In written testimony, the group asked that the company’s extension be denied.

“There are also yellow-faced bees, which are endangered species, listed a few years ago around 2016, they are found in the vicinity of the gulch,” de Naie said. “I don’t think surveys have been done of the gulch itself because of the private ownership of it. These are areas of concern.”

Commissioners questioned whether Sierra Club had voiced concerns at the Maui Planning Commission, which unanimously approved a county special use permit and recommended approval for the state special use permit during a meeting Nov. 24.

De Naie said the Sierra Club did not.

Prior to the vote, commission Chairman Jonathan Scheuer acknowledged members’ issues over the last-minute nature of the concerns.

“I hear clearly and actually support the concerns of commissioner (Edmund) Aczon and (Dan) Giovanni as well as (Nancy) Cabral that we not set up a process by which somebody can simply run in waving their hands at the last moment and raise anything and cause us to stop action and remand proceedings,” he said.

Scheuer said last-minute concerns are not unprecedented, though, and said he would like to a see a condition added that the company look into the issue.

For about two decades, Hawaiian Cement, the largest concrete producer in Hawaii, has been operating a rock quarry and base course called Hawaiian Cement Pohakea Quarry.

Located on about 80 acres west of the intersection of Honoapiilani and Kuihelani highways, the site sits on agricultural-zoned land that’s leased from owner Pohakulepo Recycling. As a result, company operations require a state Land Use Commission special use permit and county special use permit, among other approvals.

* Kehaulani Cerizo can be reached at kcerizo@mauinews.com.

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