State issues notice to tour owner for use of heavy machinery on ancient wharf

Provided by Big Island Video News

The state is weighing in after video surfaced of a tour owner using heavy machinery on an ancient Hawaii island wharf.

The Department of Land and Natural Resources issued a Notice of Alleged Violations to Simon Valej of Hang Loose Boat Tours.

Residents told us they initially saw the work being done on Thursday, June 22. They say the machinery was being used to break up concrete pylons and push large boulders into the ocean.

Officials say a site inspection conducted on Monday, June 26, revealed remnants of the historic Punaluu Wharf had been impacted, allegedly with heavy equipment, and significant ground disturbance occurred with the State Land Use Conservation District.

According to state historic preservation laws, it is a civil and administrative violation for any person to take, appropriate, excavate, injure, destroy, or alter any historic property or burial site during the course of land development or land alteration activities without obtaining the required approvals.

In the notice, DLNR Chair Suzanne Case wrote, “This notice is to inform you that the alleged alteration and destruction of historic properties, and permanent change in the land area within the Conservation District created by the land use was not reviewed nor authorized by the Department of Land and Natural Resources. The matter will be scheduled for a decision by the Board of Land and Natural Resources at a time and date to be announced.”

DLNR is working with Hawaii County to further investigate allegations that the company left two piles of dirt on the shore after trying to excavate land for a launch. It is also attempting to work with the land owner, SM Investment Partners, on mitigation measures with respect to potential impacts in the ocean.

Hang Loose Boat Tours has a valid commercial use permit from the DLNR Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation (DOBOR), however SM Investment Partners has already canceled its license agreement with the company due to non-compliance.

The state says unless Hang Loose can show it has another access point, which is required for the commercial use permit, DOBOR could ask the Land Board to revoke the permit.

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