Hawaii Tribune-Herald
Notice #: 0001349578-01
Public Notices

Final Notice and Public Review of a Proposed Activity in a Floodplain and/or Wetlands Date: November 12, 2021 To: All Interested Agencies, Groups and Individuals This is to give notice that the County of Hawai’i has conducted an evaluation as required by Executive Orders 11988 and 11990, and the Floodplain Management&Wetlands Protection Guidelines adopted by the Water Resources Council, to determine the potential effect that its activity in the floodplain and wetlands will have on the human environment for funds received through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) allocated under Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) program. The allocation of CDBG-DR funding to the County is a result of the 2018 Kilauea Volcano eruption and subsequent disaster declaration. The proposed work includes a Voluntary Housing Buyout Program (VHBP) and Housing Relocation Services Program (HRSP) as primary activities to be implemented utilizing Disaster Recovering funding. The County will acquire properties, which have been impacted by the eruption event, through the VHBP and retain these properties as open space, natural areas, or comparable land use. The County will aid individuals, displaced by the eruption event, through the HRSP by providing financial assistance in securing housing. The proposed project(s) are located within the Puna District, including but not limited to the following census block groups, 211.01 Block Groups 1 and 2, and 211.06 Block Groups 2 and 4, as well as a portion of land affected by underground magma located off of Highway 130 near the Iilewa Crater. The project area is located south of the Hilo International Airport, generally bounded by Highway 130 to the West, Hawaiian Beaches subdivision to the north, and the coastline adjacent to the Pacific Ocean to the east and the south. The homes and parcels are of varying square footages. Portions of the project area are mapped as flood zones, Zone VE and Zone AE of the flood plain, with Base Flood Elevations (BFE) ranging from 12 feet to 33 feet as established on FIRM Map Panels 1551661195F, 155166201F, 1551661202F, 1551661204F, 1551661210F, 1551661212F, 1551661213F, 1551661214F, 1551661440F, 15516611445F, and 1551661655F (September 29, 2017). Portions of project area are also mapped as wetlands as depicted on the National Wetlands Inventory (https://www.fws.gov/wetlands/data/mapper.html). The County has considered the following alternatives and mitigation measures to be taken to minimize adverse impacts and to restore and preserve natural and beneficial values: no action; reconstruction. These alternatives were not selected because no action would mean that the County would not fullfill the project purpose of utilizing disaster relief funding for the buyout of properties or assistance with relocation expenses for individuals who were displaced by the eruption. The alternative of disaster recovery funds being used to reconstruct dwellings is not a selected alternative because, per the 1971 HUD Volcanic Policy on the Island of Hawai’i (amended in 1991 and 2006), HUD funds may not be used within USGS lava hazard zones 1 and 2 for construction or any sort of rehabilitation work. The County has evaluated the alternatives to the project parcels in areas mapped as wetland and/or floodplain and has determined that it has no practicable alternative. Environmental files that document compliance with Steps 3 through 6 of Executive Order 11988 and 11990, are available for public inspection, review and copying upon request at the times and location delineated in the last paragraph of this notice for receipt of comments. This activity will have no significant impact on the environment for the following reasons: The Kilauea VHBP and HRSP programs will not involve any development or construction. Lands in floodplains or flood zones with significant hazards will be returned to their natural, open space conservation uses, and will avoid putting residents or users at risk by removing potential for non-conservation open space land uses. There are three primary purposes for this notice. First, people who may be affected by activities in a floodplain or wetland, and those who have an interest in the protection of the natural environment, should be given an opportunity to express their concerns and provide information about these areas. Second, an adequate public notice program can be an important public educational tool. The dissemination of information about a floodplain or wetland can facilitate and enhance Federal efforts to reduce the risks associated with the occupancy and modification of these special areas. Third, as a matter of fairness, when the Federal government determines it will participate in actions taking place in a floodplain or wetland, it must inform those who may be put at greater or continued risk. The County of Hawai’i has environmental files that document compliance with Steps 3 though 6 of Executive Orders 11988 and 11990, which are available for public inspection, review, and copying upon request by contacting Mr. Douglas Le, Disaster Recovery Officer, at (808) 961-8996 or kilauearecovery@hawaiicounty.gov. Information is also available at the County of Hawai’i offices on an appointment-only basis (by phone at 808-961-8996, office located at 100 Pauahi Street, Suite 200, Hilo, HI 96720). Written comments must be received by the County of Hawai’i at the following address on or before November 20, 2021: County of Hawai’i Disaster Recovery Team, attention Douglas Le, 100 Pauahi Street, Suite 200, Hilo, HI 96720, during the hours of 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM. Comments may also be submitted via email at kilauearecovery@hawaiicounty.gov. (HTH1349578 11/12/21)