Governor Asks PLDC to Defer Action

November 23, 2012, 4:26 PM HST · Updated November 23, 6:13 PM
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PLDC hearing on O’ahu. There was also an overflow area set up outside the room with a TV screen for those that were unable to fit in the public hearing room. Photo courtesy Mahina Martin.

By Wendy Osher

Governor Neil Abercrombie today asked for deferred action on pending rules for the Public Land Development Corporation while public concerns about the agency are fully addressed.

The governor also issued a directive to the Department of Land and Natural Rescouces, which is administratively attached to the PLDC, to facilitate meetings with stakeholders.

“I have asked the PLDC board to postpone any meeting dates and adoptive actions until those concerns are fully taken into consideration,” said Governor Abercrombie in a media statement. “I do not want the potential for the PLDC to accomplish public good to be lost because of a failure to account for reservations about either the process or the outcome. I have asked DLNR Chairperson William Aila to meet with stakeholders to address the PLDC’s administrative rules and the rule-making process before moving forward.”

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In a statement issued this afternoon, Gov. Abercrombie said that the meetings would be conducted with the understanding that if public concerns could not be adequately addressed, then a legislative process may be the next appropriate step.

“We will do our best to alleviate public concerns; however, the PLDC is the creation of the Legislature and lawmakers will ultimately be the ones to decide its future,” said Gov. Abercrombie.

The Public Land Development Corporation is a state entity that was created by the Legislature in 2011 to develop state lands through public-private partnerships, and generate revenues for the Department of Land and Natural Resources.  Supporters of the measure contend that the purpose is to facilitate partnerships, while improving communities, and creating jobs.

Opponents, meantime, have called for a repeal of the PLDC citing criticism over what they called “vague” and “broad” language, exemptions extended to the entity, and the placement of public trust decisions in the hands of a select few.  Critics also complained that the voice of some neighbor islanders was not being heard because a single follow-up meeting was held on O’ahu on a week-day.

The corporation was formed after the Legislature passed Senate Bill 1555 which was signed into law as Act 55 by Gov. Abercrombie.

The PLDC is currently is completing a public review process, mandated by law, to formulate its administrative rules.  The PLDC has also proposed amendments to its draft rules based on public input.  An additional public hearing was held on Nov. 13 on O’ahu to solicit further comment.

“It is the responsibility of PLDC staff to follow through with the public commentary process, and personal attacks which have characterized some of the testimony are, in my opinion, misdirected and unproductive,” said Gov. Abercrombie. “We’ve heard the concerns and now need to focus on productive dialogue with stakeholders before proceeding.

“The PLDC has the potential to support new schools, recreational facilities and operations by using public lands for public purposes that otherwise may not have had sufficient funding. We will continue to work closely with the Legislature and all interested parties involved to do what is best for the people of Hawaii.”

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