Sunday, March 30, 2008

2008 Legislative Update: Crossover and Second Lateral

Here are a few land use and administrative law related bills wending their way through the legislature. These bills remain viable after moving past two recent deadlines: First Crossover (bills transmitted to other house for consideration; i.e., from House to Senate or from Senate to House) & Second Lateral (deadline for a bill to be in its last referred committee after first crossover):

In an effort to save energy, SB 2933 prohibits persons, through private agreements, from preventing the use of clotheslines on private property for clothes drying; for example, preventing the use of a clothesline on a unit owner’s balcony in a high-rise condominium development by a condominium association agreement.

Another energy saver, SB 644, mandates that all new residential detached single-family residences permitted after January 2010, install a solar thermal device as the primary water heating system in the construction, unless installation is impracticable due to poor solar resource; installation is cost prohibitive and a substitute renewable energy device is installed; or a demand water heater device approved by Underwriters Laboratories Inc., is installed.

Many bills sought to preserve farming and define uses in the state agricultural district. HB 2503 expands permitted uses in the agricultural district to include “agricultural-energy facilities” on lands with soil classified by the land study bureau's detailed land classification as overall (master) productivity rating class A or B (by operation of the land use commission’s rules, this use would also be allowed on class C and D lands). "Agricultural-energy facility" is defined by the legislature as “a facility that generates, stores, or distributes renewable energy or renewable fuel including electrical or thermal energy or liquid or gaseous fuels from products of agricultural activities from agricultural lands located in the state.”

The legislature proposed several bills related to important agricultural lands ("IAL"), providing incentives for landowners who voluntarily designate IALs including HB 2518 (tax incentives) and HB 2357 and SB 2646 (omnibus bills that include various incentives).

In an effort to preserve agricultural lands for farming, HB 2355 places a moratorium on the “issuance of permits for the construction of wells intended to serve agricultural land parcels that are likely to be ‘fake farms’ or ‘gentleman estates.’”

“Smart grow” is the term du jour this session with at least a half-dozen bills invoking the term. Among the viable are HB 2527 (allows the Office of Planning to impose “smart growth” principles “in new and existing communities in the State”); HB 1919 (adds “smart growth” principles to the land use commission’s decision-making criteria for residential or commercial projects); and HB 2526 (overhauls the Hawaii State Plan by adding that land development shall be in compliance with “smart growth principles,” codifying the Hawaii 2050 Sustainability Plan, and establishing a fifteen member sustainability council to implement the Hawaii 2050 Sustainability Plan).

Several bills were introduced to provide flexibility for decision-makers in the State's opening meetings/sunshine law: HB 2730 (allows Oahu neighborhood board to discuss and accept information on issues not on the agenda and for them to attend un-noticed workshops together, so long as no decision is made on a matter before them); HB 1968 and HB 2216 (allows more than two members, but less than quorum, to discuss board business outside of a noticed meeting and to attend and participate in workshops); and SB 3105 (amends the Sunshine Law to clarify limitations placed on public attendance at dangerous on-site inspections of a location).

A potpourri of other land use related bills are still in play including:

HB 2243 allows lands zoned by the county prior to 1980 to remain inconsistent with subsequent state land use designations.

HB 1037 extends the shoreline setback to not less than forty feet from the shoreline and requires counties to account for annual erosion rates.

HB 2428 and SB 2900 attempt to address the conflict between the state and county regarding ownership and jurisdiction of public highways.

HB 3177 increases the maximum penalty for violations within the conservation district from $2,000 to $20,000 per violation plus costs, and it increases the additional daily penalty from $2,000 to $20,000.

SB 2780 broadens the applicability of public work requirements or private construction to include “a construction contract valued at $500,000 or more between private persons using state or county land for commercial, profit-making activity.”

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