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City Council holds landfill resolution to let Planning Commission weigh in

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    Assorted trash at the landfill at Waimanalo Gulch is shown here. Area residents have been fighting for the landfill to be closed

A resolution urging Mayor Peter Carlisle’s administration to proceed with plans to continue using the Waimanalo Gulch Sanitary Landfill was shelved by the City Council’s Public Works and Sustainability Committee after it received written testimony from West Oahu leaders opposing the idea.

Resolution 12-290, introduced by Council Chairman Ernie Martin and Public Works Chairman Stanley Chang, "establishes a policy" calling for the existing Waimanalo Gulch Landfill to be used until it reaches capacity or "its use is limited" by the state.

The matter is currently before the city Planning Commission, which was told by the state Land Use Commission to make a recommendation on the city’s plan to expand the capacity and the life of the Waianae Coast landfill.

In calling for a deferral, Chang said committee members should be "in a better place" to make a decision on the resolution when those proceedings are completed.

Martin said the Council has been sympathetic toward Waianae Coast residents for needing to shoulder the burden of a landfill, saying that it has supported a community benefits plan that pumps dollars toward improvements in the area.

But Ken Williams, Ko Olina Community Association general manager, said in written testimony that "the landfill threatens ongoing and future economic benefits provided by Ko Olina."

The Council, in 2004, passed a resolution with similar language, saying that the landfill would have 15 additional years of capacity if expanded.

In 2009, however, the Land Use Commission voted to approve a special use permit that allowed the landfill to be fully functional through July 31, 2012, at which time it was to accept only ash and residue from HPOWER, the city’s waste-to-energy facility. The city appealed to the courts, leading to the Hawaii Supreme Court sending the matter back to the LUC, which then sent it back to the Planning Commission.

Meanwhile, a mayoral alternative landfill selection committee had come up with 11 sites, including several along the North Shore.

The administration has argued it would take seven years to develop a landfill elsewhere.

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