Planning Commission approves two PV solar projects

An aerial shot of the Pukoo Lagoon, about 16 miles east of Kaunakakai. Property on the mauka side of Kamehameha V Highway received a permit to build a 13-by-32-foot photovoltaic solar array.

Despite having cancelled the previous two meetings for lack of quorum, the Molokai Planning Commission was still able to complete all of its business at its regular meeting yesterday at Mitchell Pau’ole Center in under an hour.

A permit request for the East End Pukoo property, formerly owned by rock star Eddie Vedder, presented the longest deliberation of any agenda item for the five commissioners. But given the commission’s strong support for renewable energy projects, the Special Management Area minor permit request to build a photovoltaic solar array found no opposition.

The $30,000 Hoffman-Pucinelli PV project did receive comment from Collette Machado, chairperson of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs and a longtime property owner in the Pukoo area. While not opposed to this PV project, Machado did question the use of the main residence and cottage on the steeply sloped property, mauka of Pukoo Lagoon and Kupeke Fishpond.

According to Machado, these two homes, with swimming pools, are being illegally used as vacation rentals and are not in compliance with the strict rules governing transient vacation rentals in Maui County. “I do have reservations about this, but not as far as the permit, but as a local issue.”

Commissioner Zhantell Dudoit asked the commission corporate counsel, Michael Hopper, if the SMA request in any way permitted other activities. Hooper said the SMA does not exempt the owners from any of the other zoning requirements.

Planning Commission Chairman John Sprinzel had only recently heard that Vedder, the frontman for the rock group Pearl Jam, recently sold the property to a Mark Pucinelli. The request for the SMA minor permit was being made by local architectural draftsman Luigi Manera on behalf of Pucinelli.

In other business, the commission made quick work of two other requests.

The first request came from the homeowners’ association of Wavecrest condominiums, 13 miles east of Kaunakakai. The county Planning Department had recommended that Wavecrest be exempted from the SMA permit process during the installation of solar PV and hot water panels on five buildings. There would be no ground disturbed in this $80,000 project. No adverse environmental effects are anticipated. The commission concurred with the recommendation unanimously.

An SMA minor permit was also granted to William Douglas Matthewman to construct a 96-square foot storage building on his residential property in the Kamiloloa subdivision No. 2. Excavation on the project will be no deeper than 12 inches. The permit for the project, valued at $3,500, was approved unanimously.

All three actions taken by the commission yesterday had been deferred from previous meetings that had been cancelled due to lack of quorum. The MoPC now has seven members, with two seats currently unfilled. A minimum of five commissioners is needed to make quorum. Commissioners Nathaniel Bacon and Lori Buchanan were absent.

Yesterday’s meeting was also shortened because of a deferred agenda item involving Gary Otsuka, who is seeking a Special Management Area permit exemption for a demolition project at 65 Kukui Place in Kaunakakai. This item had already been deferred from April 25 so that Otsuka could submit test results to the State Department of Health.

At the next MoPC meeting on July 25 will be a proposal for a roof extension from Paddlers’ Inn and an environmental assessment for a private airplane hangar at Molokai Airport.


4 Responses

  1. Has anyone done an environmental impact statement on the light that will be sapped from the local trees and shrubberys with this Solar project?

    First you must find… another shrubbery!

    Then, when you have found the shrubbery, you must place it here, beside this shrubbery, only slightly higher so you get a two layer effect with a little path running down the middle.

    Then, you must cut down the mightiest tree in the forrest… with… a herring!

  2. dont blame the crop.

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