Maui News

Maui Planning Commission Asked to Consider Cane Smoke

September 23, 2015, 1:50 PM HST
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Maui resident Christopher Profio is asking the Maui Planning Commission to include sugar cane smoke as a factor when granting special management area use permits.

In the request, which was filed on Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2015, Profio asserts that smoke and ash from cane burning on Maui creates a hazard for people and the ecosystem, and should be considered when granting SMAs.

“Builders and potential buyers should be aware of the impacts of smoke and ash on the subject property,” said Profio in a press release announcement.  “The Planning Commission needs to consider whether the target development will add to this stress. Areas experiencing ash from cane burning are less likely to tolerate additional stress of, for instance, construction run-off,” said Profino.

The request comes on the heels of a lawsuit filed in August by the Stop Cane Burning group, seeking injunctive relief to invalidate the 2015 Burn Permit issued to Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Company and ban parent company A&B from conducting agricultural burning operations on Maui.

The same group filed a separate lawsuit in June against the state Department of Health demanding a stop to cane burning.

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HC&S executives have maintained their stance that harvesting techniques have been carefully regulated and are essential to HC&S’ continued operations.

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In response to previous requests for comment, HC&S general manager Rick Volner said the company has been taking action to ensure impacts to the community are addressed.  In a statement last month, he said, “We want to be a good neighbor and have worked actively with DOH to adhere to a complex set of burn procedures, which we implement field by field, to minimize the impact to our community. We have invested millions of dollars exploring different harvesting techniques and alternative crops, none of which have yet proven to be viable for 36,000 acres.”

Profino said his main reason for making the request is because he wants the commission to consider the health of potential inhabitants of shoreline developments.

According to Profino, laws require the Maui Planning Commission to hold a public hearing on the petition within 30 days. The commission can then deny the petition or grant the petition, which would begin the formal rule making process.

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