Mining companies Arrow of Oregon and David and Laura Rodrigues got a green light Thursday from the Windward Planning Commission to expand quarry operations in Hawaiian Ocean View Estates. But the go-ahead comes with conditions attached.
The commission, after listening to an hour of oral arguments, took its deliberations behind closed doors for two hours and emerged with a unanimous decision.
Arrow of Oregon and David and Laura Rodrigues, which are mining in two separate areas, primarily along Lurline Lane, Kailua Boulevard and Liliana Lane, were seeking special use permits for their cinder and rock quarries. Mining has gone on in the area since the late 1950s.
The Hove Road Maintenance Corp. intervened in the case, trying to get the county to enforce its attempt to charge the mining companies several hundred thousand dollars in special fees to help pay for damage to the roads.
The planning commission did not set that condition, but did require the mining companies to install guardrails, create buffers from the roadways and mitigate problems for neighbors.
Thomas Yeh, attorney for the Road Maintenance Corp., said after the meeting that he needs to go over the conditions with his client before deciding whether to appeal the ruling in Circuit Court.
Laura Rodriguez also said she needed to go over the details. But she was happy that her family business, which has been idle since October 2014, can rev up again.
“We’re getting our permit and that’s amazing,” she said. “My husband can now go back to work.”
In his oral argument, Yeh responded to testimony from Hove residents that they need the cinder and gravel the mining companies provide. He noted that the Road Maintenance Corp., which collects assessments from property owners and owners of commercial vehicles, maintains 157 miles of roads in the subdivision.
“This is not about whether these quarries serve a benefit to the community,” Yeh said. “Those roadways are in pretty good condition. When we go to the quarry sites, those conditions were different. They should bear the burden of that repair.”
But Randy Vitousek, representing Arrow, said the Road Maintenance already had the authority under the Hove bylaws to require maintenance fees. He didn’t see a need for the county to be involved with policing them.
“They already have the mechanism to do their road maintenance,” he said. “There’s no reason to put another layer of county enforcement on top of that.”
David Rodrigues, who represented himself, said his father bought the operation from a neighbor who is now complaining. Other mining companies also use the roads but they’re not being charged the same assessments, he said.
The planning commission has been mulling over the case since June. Last week, members made a field trip to the site and saw the operations and the roadways for themselves.
Arrow sought to expand its permit by an additional 8 acres, bringing the total mined to 13 acres. The Rodrigues company sought a special use permit to mine 5 acres, after it was shut down for operating without a zoning permit.
West Hawaii Today