The new state agency tasked with developing state lands through public-private partnerships will be a corporation of one.
The Public Land Development Corporation kicked off its first meeting Monday, attended by four of its five board members and a couple dozen community members and representatives of environmental groups.
But it’s just getting started. And a top priority is finding an executive director to lead the corporation.
The law that created the corporation allows for hiring three people: an executive director, a planner and project-development specialist. But with a budget of $135,000, board members decided that the funding could only cover a single employee. They plan to ask the Legislature next session for money to fund the latter two posts.
The board proposed devising a subcommittee out of its five members to review applicants, concerned that there could be a flood of candidates.
But this is an unlikely scenario, according to Board Member Robert Bunda, a former state senator.
“I don’t think everyone and their aunties are going to come wanting to do this,” said Bunda. “I don’t think we have a flock of of individuals wanting to be executive director.”
In addition to Bunda, other board members present included: Richard Lim, head of the the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism; Kalbert Young, Budget and Finance director; and Guy Kaulukukui, deputy director of the Department of Land and Natural Resources. The fifth board member, Duane Kurisu, was not in attendance.
Young was appointed chairman of the board.
While not the most lively of meetings, William Aila, director of the Department of Land and Natural Resources, tried to assuage public concerns, before officially abdicating his board position to Kaulukukui, his deputy.
Concern has been expressed about the corporation’s broad powers to develop lands and its ability to bypass county zoning and permitting regulations.
“I know everyone is afraid out there of the powers that this [agency] has,” said Aila. “I urge you to give us some time, allow us to earn your trust about the possible potential of the Public Land Development Corporation.”
“The primary purpose is to provide revenue for the department, select public parcels of land, and develop it in a pono way, with the ultimate benefit to DLNR, so we can manage the vast amount of public lands and submerged lands and biological resources that we need to do,” he said, before hastily departing.
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