Sustainable living bill dies


A bill that would have allowed experimental sustainability communities in Hawaii and Maui counties fell short of the finish line.

The state House and Senate passed SB 2274, but it did not make it through a conference committee, where differences between the chambers’ versions are sorted out.

“Conference was kind of chaotic toward the end,” said Sen. Russell Ruderman, who introduced the bill.

Ruderman, D-Puna, said the committee didn’t get a chance to hear it. He didn’t know if there wasn’t time to address the legislation or if someone wanted to kill it.

“I don’t know what happened,” he said. “I don’t really.”

The bill would have required the two counties to create a specialized permit for sustainable living sites of less than 15 acres within rural and agricultural districts.

The House version would have set a minimum of 1 acre, while the Senate version started at 1/2 acre.

The bill passed the Senate with one opponent; 16 voted no in the House.

The sites would have promoted a live-in environment with conservation, shared living spaces, waste re-use, renewable energy and organic food production emphasized.

Supporters said it would help the county meet goals of the Hawaii 2050 Sustainability Plan. Other benefits included less waste being sent to landfills and the promotion of think tanks focused on sustainable living research.

Opponents, including neighbors of proposed sites, said they were worried about noise and other impacts, including unsanitary conditions.

Ruderman said he plans to pursue the bill again next year.

“I think we’re going to look at it and make some adjustments to it,” he said.

“We’ll make it better.”

Email Tom Callis at tcallis@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

 

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