Newsletter: Issue 2 - Oct. 6, 2019
Aloha! We are now less than 1 month away from our move to the Big Island.
In This Edition
In this issue, we share our latest experience with the delay of a required letter for our house permit approval process.
After a somewhat difficult bidding process we had in getting agreement on our construction contract, we had hoped for more smooth sailing going forward. Simply finish drawing the new plans, have the structural engineers finish their work and THEN resubmit to the county for permit approval. We still would be on track to break ground when we arrive November 1.
This brings us to our next hurdle, the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) of Hawaii and the State Historic Preservation Division (SHPD), a branch of the DLNR. We first became aware of these departments when our architects at Bamboo Living first tried to submit our original plans to the county in April. We filled out a questionnaire and gave them the best information we had concerning our land, which was not much because of the overgrown nature of our parcel. That was the last we heard of SHPD until July, when our architects informed us of a $150 dollar fee and the “no effect” letter we needed before we could resubmit our new plans for review. The letter would state that no historic buildings, structures or burial sites would be affected by our plans.
Bamboo Living submitted the fee on our behalf to help expedite the process and keep us on time to meet our goal. After about two weeks, Ciro, an architect working closely with us, made contact with Sean, the only reviewer for SHPD on the Big Island, to find out about how long this process should take. His response was not encouraging. He told Ciro to call back in one week to “see where we were in the queue.” Furthermore, Ciro also told us that Sean sounded “very stressed” concerning his workload and that he would call back next week to follow up.
The following week Ciro attempted to call Sean but was unable to reach him so he left a voicemail and sent a follow up email. Thus began our frustrations with SHPD. After many failed attempts to reach Sean and our frustrations turning more sour, we decided to reach out to Sean ourselves. Laura was able to reach Sean and he told her that he does did not know when he would read or answer his emails or voicemails because of the large volume he receives. At this point we made the decision to move up the chain and try to reach anyone who could help move this along.
Two months after we paid our fee to SHPD and no progress, Laura was able to talk with Garnet, an archeological assistant on Oahu, who agreed to help. Laura gave her all the pertinent information including dates, pictures, overhead drone shots, videos, current and future plans. She told Laura that she would do the work and make her recommendations in one week. At last we were making progress.
True to her word, Garnet did do the work; however, her recommendation was not what we hoped for ... “the no effect letter.” She recommended an archeological survey based on our future plans to locate our shipping container on a part of the land that was not yet cleared. This would push our ability to resubmit our plans back even more, which was unacceptable.
This time we reached further up the ladder and talked to Susan, the Chief Archeologist, and discussed our plans and concerns. She looked at the notes from Garnet and all the information we provided and stated that where we wanted to locate the shipping container was the reason for the survey request. She told Laura that if we agreed to temporarily place the shipping container on the portion of land that was previously cleared in 2015, she would issue the letter. We immediately sent the email stating so and any further work we do in clearing the land would first have the survey done, independently from SHPD.
Thursday, October 2, 2019, we finally received the coveted “no effect” letter and on the 3rd, Bamboo Living resubmitted our finalized plans to the county for permit approval. We have been told that some have waited a year or two for this process, so we should consider ourselves fortunate. Indeed we do! Sometimes good fortune comes in disguise.
"Diligence is the mother of good fortune." -- Benjamin Disraeli