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Wille wants county to focus on sustainability


Tribune-Herald staff writer

Should long-term environmental impacts govern decisions made by Hawaii County?

Kohala Councilwoman Margaret Wille has introduced a resolution that would encourage the county to consider environmental and cultural sustainability with all of its actions.

The resolution, which is non-binding, will be discussed by the council’s Agriculture, Water and Energy Sustainability Committee on Tuesday.

Wille said she wants the resolution to kick start a discussion on the issue of sustainability and how the county can develop a more “farsighted way of thinking.”

“I think that’s the direction we ought to go,” she said.

Wille said she considers the resolution, which she envisions as a “statement of policy,” as a draft and is open to changes. But with enough support, she said she would be open to making it an ordinance, which would have more weight.

The resolution states that all county-level decisions should be consistent with long-term sustainability goals; advancement of environmental well being and sociocultural values; favor caution and preservation “in any case in which information is uncertain;” and place the burden of proof that use of a resource is consistent with the sustainable health of an ecosystem on the party proposing to use it.

It also says that private parties should be compensated for the loss of resources due to a conservation action.

While the council may agree with the goals of the resolution, county Planning Director Bobby Jean Leithead Todd said putting them into practice would likely be easier said than done.

Leaithead Todd said such “vague and ambiguous” language can be difficult for staff to interpret or apply to their own actions.

“It raises more questions than it answers any questions when you look at it,” she said.

“I just don’t know what implications if any it has,” Leithead Todd added. “It has such broad language it really doesn’t have a lot of direction in it.”

The committee meeting will be held at the West Hawaii Civic Center, 75-5044 Ane Keohokalole Highway, Kailua-Kona.

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