By ERIN MILLER
Stephens Media Hawaii
The University of Hawaii at Hilo is taking steps to acquire three lots to use for future campus expansion.
University officials this month filed a draft environmental assessment for the property. The document was published in Thursday’s edition of the Office of Environmental Quality Control’s Environmental Notice, giving people until Nov. 23 to comment on the proposal.
The irregularly shaped lots cover about 46 acres and are bounded by Mohouli Street and West Lanikaula Street.
With no other available state lands of a similar size as close to the UHH campus as these three parcels, alternative sites were rejected, the report said. Acquiring private lands could be more expensive, and take longer than the process to get the state and federal lots being considered, and using state land farther from the campus would likely increase the university’s operational costs and energy consumption, the document said. Under the no action alternative, campus development would require a higher density on existing UHH property.
Exactly how the land would be used remains up in the air. University officials, in the draft document, said the land would be discussed in the updated Long Range Development Plan, which isn’t expected to be released in draft form until the end of next year. That plan hasn’t been updated since it was completed in 1996.
Two of the lots are already state owned, and the Board of Land and Natural Resources approved a 65-year lease of those parcels to the university. The third parcel is owned by the Army, which is in the process of decommissioning the land and buildings and reverting the property to state ownership.
A survey of animals on the properties did detect a Hawaiian hoary bat population. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife service has jurisdiction over the bats and would need to be consulted before the university began any property development, the assessment said. One potential mitigation measure would be to refrain from clearing certain vegetation taller than 15 feet during the bat pupping season, which runs June 1 through Sept. 15.
Email Erin Miller at firstname.lastname@example.org.