The proposed Thirty Meter Telescope project on Wednesday landed back in the jurisdiction of the state Board of Land and Natural Resources, which now must hold a new contested case hearing.
The project’s conservation use district permit allowing construction on Mauna Kea was remanded by Hawaii island Circuit Judge Greg K. Nakamura, whose April 2013 decision upholding the permit was overturned by the Hawaii Supreme Court in December.
The board is currently searching for a hearings officer.
“Once a new hearings officer has been selected, a new contested case hearing can be held. We cannot anticipate at this time how long that will take,” Joshua Wisch, special assistant to state Attorney General Douglas Chin, said in an email.
Earlier this month, the TMT International Observatory Board decided to search for an alternative site in case it is unable to build here in the next couple of years.
Ed Stone, TMT executive director, said the $1.4 billion project will need assurances from the state that it can obtain a permit for construction on Mauna Kea by the end of this year or the beginning of next year or it will take its next-generation telescope to another mountain.
Obtaining a permit by then will allow the TMT board to gather enough funding to launch construction in the spring of 2018, he said.
The TMT is awaiting instruction as outlined by either the Board of Land and Natural Resources or when a hearings officer is appointed, TMT spokesman Scott Ishikawa said Wednesday.