Judge rules UH decision to sublease land to TMT invalid

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Thursday, December 15th 2016, 6:32 pm HST
By Dillon Ancheta, Digital Content Producer

BIG ISLAND (HawaiiNewsNow) -
A Big Island judge ruled Thursday the decision to issue a sublease to the Thirty Meter Telescope project invalid.

Circuit Court Judge Greg Nakamura ruled the Board of Land and Natural Resources violated constitutional rights by failing to hold a hearing before allowing the University of Hawaii to issue a sublease to TMT International Observatory, LLC.

Nakamura said the board should have held a contested hearing case on the sublease, which is the same type of case delaying the project's conservation permit.

This is another win for TMT opponents.

"Judge Nakamura's ruling reaffirms our position that the BLNR's actions have failed to protect Native Hawaiian rights and the public's interest in these public lands of Mauan a Wakea," Kalani Flores of the Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation said.

Flores first requested a hearing on this matter in 2014, before the board approved the sublease. His request was denied.

University officials backed the project's sublease saying, "The University of Hawaii has a valid sublease with TMT that it is subject to BLNR consent. That consent had been obtained."

UH also pointed out the ruling focused on the consent of the sublease and not the sublease itself.

The university and state attorney general are seeking clarification on the ruling.

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