ALERT – Thursday 4/7 Senate Committee on Water, Land and Housing (Donovan Dela Cruz, chair) and Committee on Energy and Environment (Mike Gabbard, chair) will hear HB 117, HD2 which expedites approval and processing of certain projects within special management areas (SMA). Bill and hearing notice are attached.
The bill makes 2 changes to HRS 204A-22 CZM
1) The bill adds a new definition, underlined, of what isn’t development within Special Management Area (SMA) HTS 205A: “Construction of a single-family residence that is not part of a larger development or which does not exceed ten thousand sq feet of floor area.”
Exempting 10,000 sq ft buildings from the definition of “development,” large residences up to 10,000 sq. ft. will not be subject to the Coastal Zone Management Act (CZM) permit process. This exemption allows developments up to 10,000 sq. ft. to escape review under CZM even in the most sensitive areas and without oversight would impede public access.
2) The bill eliminates the value of a development which is the trigger for a minor/major SMA permit. “Special management area use permit” means an action by the authority authorizing development [the valuation of which exceeds $125,000 or which] that may have a substantial adverse environmental or ecological effect, taking into account potential cumulative effects.”
Without a threshold dollar amount for minor permits, agencies will be under considerable pressure to distinguish between minor and major permits under the “no substantial adverse impact” as the sole determining factor.
This change could increase litigation as residents fight to protect coastal areas, lead to confusion as to the limits of minor permits and eliminate the clear trigger for public participation, which is now required for anything over $125,000.
Special management areas are areas in which coastal resources are likely to be impacted by development activities. Each county sets the boundaries for its SMA through the Coastal Zone Management Act. SMA boundaries may range from about 100 yards from the coastline to several miles inland, depending upon how far inland development may have an adverse impact on coastal resources.
ACTION – ask the committee to keep the $125,000 threshold and to not allow an exemption for oceanfront houses, regardless of size.