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Land board sets date to hear arguments on TMT permit

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  • An artist rendering of the Thirty Meter Telescope at night.

The state Land Board will listen to oral arguments Sept. 20 in Hilo on whether to issue a key permit for the controversial Thirty Meter Telescope, which a consortium of universities and astronomy institutions has proposed to build atop Mauna Kea.

That date was announced today, following former Circuit Judge Riki May Amano’s recommendation earlier this week that the Board of Land and Natural Resources grant the 18-story telescope project a conservation district permit.

Meanwhile, parties to the contested case, which featured four months of testimony in Hilo, will be allowed to file exceptions to Amano’s recommendation no later than Aug. 21 and responses to those exceptions no later than Sept. 11, according to a notice issued today by the Department of Land and Natural Resources.

TMT officials have insisted they would need “reasonably assured access” to a site by this fall to begin construction by April 2018. As the legal proceedings stretched on, the TMT International Observatory board began eyeing a mountain in the Canary Islands as an alternative site.

Some opponents were dismissive of Amano’s recommendation, saying the project still has a long road ahead and pledging to continue to fight against the telescope at the BLNR and in the courts.

The Sept. 20 hearing will be held at the Grand Naniloa Hotel Crown Room. Each party to the case will have fifteen minutes to present their arguments to the board, and then the board will be able to ask questions. The state Land Board can then take however long it needs to decide on whether to issue the permit, DLNR officials said.

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