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Land Board approves Mauna Kea’s biggest telescope

Astronomy, Hawaiian cultural practices and economic realities were major themes today as the state Board of Land and Natural Resources unanimously approved siting the 14th and biggest telescope to date atop Mauna Kea on Hawaii Island.

But the board also granted opponents’ request for a contested case hearing on the Thirty Meter Telescope, giving them one last chance to make their case before a hearing officer and get a final review by the land board.

Before the vote in Honolulu, more than 30 people testified on the telescope plan, which was reviewed by the board for five hours.

About equal numbers of native Hawaiians, teachers, students and other community members spoke for, or against, the 184-foot-tall observatory.

University of Hawaii President M.R.C. Greenwood said she was “very pleased” that the land board granted a conservation district use permit for the Thirty Meter Telescope, and is optimistic that the outcome of the contested case will allow the project to go forward.

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