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State House approves deal to preserve Turtle Bay land

By Cathy Bussewitz / Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 1:41 p.m. HST, May 1, 2014

Hawaii lawmakers approved a historic land-preservation deal Thursday on the final day of the 2014 legislative session.

House members voted to approve $40 million in bonds to pay for the deal brokered in part by Gov. Neil Abercrombie. The proposal, already approved by the Senate, would preserve about 660 acres of land at Turtle Bay Resort indefinitely. 

"This vote marks the culmination of years of effort to secure the future of the North Shore," Abercrombie said in a statement. "The result will keep the country, country. It will protect pristine coastlines from development. It will provide open space and access for everyone."

Lawmakers in the House had been concerned because the deal was announced late in the session, so the proposal did not get a public hearing. But most House members Thursday were resigned that the preservation deal was important enough to approve despite the hasty nature of the lawmaking.

"The work that we do is not something simply for purists," said Rep. Della au Bellati, adding that members of the North Shore community participated in the meetings to craft the deal. "We have done our due diligence. We have listened to the community."

Rep. Richard Lee Fale says there needs to be better communication between the Legislature and the governor.

But others said the deal is an opportunity that must be seized.

"This is not just about saving it for the North Shore community," said Democratic Rep. Jo Jordan. "The people in the concrete jungle want to get out to our open spaces." 

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