By Peter Sur
Hawaii Tribune-Herald

HILO — The state Board of Land and Natural Resources voted unanimously yesterday to approve the Mauna Kea Comprehensive Management Plan, but a half-dozen requests for a contested case hearing cast a cloud over its implementation.

The motion to approve the 299-page document was made without debate among board members, immediately after they returned from a 30-minute executive session, surprising some people who had stepped out of the meeting room for a while.

In approving the plan, board members added several conditions, most notably that the University of Hawaii had to develop four "sub-plans" within a year for approval by the land board, or before the next conservation district use application is granted, whichever is earlier.

The sub-plans have to address public access, natural resources, cultural resources and the decommissioning of telescopes.

Other conditions include:

— The UH Board of Regents is responsible for implementing the plan, subject to oversight by the BLNR.

— Regents shall provide the BLNR with the status of each of the sub-plan and management recommendations within one year and shall continue to do so every year.

— Regents, and then the BLNR, shall approve any amendments to the plan.

— Regents acknowledge that the BLNR has not delegated any authority to the university with respect to land use approvals, leasing or public access.

— Within one year, or before a conservation district use application is issued, regents shall present for approval to the BLNR a management and implementation framework for any project developments considered within the university-leased lands.

"The reason why I voted for it," Chairwoman Laura Thielen said of the plan, "is it sets in place management steps. And the conditions the board added require the university to move forward with some specific issues that the public raised during the testimony."

The regents will discuss supporting the plan at their meeting Thursday on Oahu.

The cost of implementing the plan has been estimated at about $1.5 million a year, and UH President David McClain said he was "committed to providing what's necessary for the implementation of the plan."

Not so fast, said Kealoha Pisciotta, president of Mauna Kea Anaina Hou, one of several groups that requested a contested case hearing.

"They can't implement anything if we go forward with it," Pisciotta said. The state attorney general's office would have to decide whether the groups that have requested a contested case hearing have standing.

Thielen may also have to await legal advice on whether to grant a contested case hearing, which would reconsider the board's decision. The Department of Land and Natural Resources must wait 10 days to receive written requests for such a hearing.

Before the vote, 22 people testified on the plan. Opinion among those testifying yesterday was split down the middle, with 11 in favor and 11 against.

Among those in favor were Roberta Chu, incoming chairwoman of the Hawaii Island Economic Development Board, Kahu Ku Mauna member Ed Stevens, and Randy Hirokawa, dean of the UH-Hilo College of Arts and Sciences.

Peace activist Jim Albertini, Kanaka Council alakai Kale Gumapac, Hanalei Fergerstrom of the Temple of Lono and Clarence Ching, a plaintiff in the lawsuit that ultimately led to the creation of the plan, all testified in opposition.

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Here is more detail on the conditions:

On April 9, 2009, the Board of Land and Natural Resources approved the University of Hawaii’s Mauna Kea Comprehensive Management Plan (CMP), subject to the following conditions:

1) That the University of Hawaii Board of Regents (BOR) is the entity responsible for the implementation of the CMP. The BOR may delegate its responsibility with the accompanying authorities to another entity within the University system, subject to the approval of the BLNR;
2) That within one year of the approval of the CMP, the BOR or its authorized designee shall provide the BLNR in writing and in person with the following information:
 Status of the development of each sub plan;
 Status of the development of each management action;
3) The BOR or its authorized designee shall continue to submit annual reports to the BLNR (in writing and in person), which shall include the items listed in condition No. 2;
4) That within one year of the approval the CMP by the BLNR, or the submission of a Conservation District Use Application, whichever occurs sooner, the University shall submit for review and approval the following sub plans:
 A cultural resources management plan;
 A natural resources management plan;
 A decommissioning plan, including a financial plan; and
 A public access plan, including consideration of native Hawaiian access;
5) Amendments to the CMP shall be reviewed and approved first by the BOR, and second by the BLNR;
6) That the BOR recognizes that by approving the CMP, the BLNR has not delegated any authority (not already in existence) to the University with respect to land use approvals, leasing, or public access at Mauna Kea;
7) That within one year of the approval the CMP by the BLNR within the UH Management Areas, or the submission of a Conservation District Use Application, whichever occurs sooner, the BOR (or its authorized designee) shall provide the BLNR (for review and approval), with a management and implementation framework, that has been authorized by the BOR, for project developments within UH Management Areas that is consistent with the specific management actions, conditions and policies of CMP;
8) That failure to comply with these conditions may subject the University to the imposition of additional conditions to ensure compliance with the CMP and any penalties allowed under the law.

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