In 1961 the State Land Use Law (Act 187), which has been codified as Hawaii Revised Statute (HRS), Chapter 205, established the State Land Use Commission (LUC), and granted the LUC the power to zone all lands in the State into three districts: Agriculture, Conservation, and Urban (the Rural District was added in 1963). Act 187 vested the DLNR with jurisdiction over the Conservation District, who was able to formulate subzones within the Conservation District, and to regulate land uses and activities therein. Since 1964, the Board of Land and Natural Resources (BLNR) has adopted and administered land use regulations for the Conservation District; and has made major changes to the regulations in 1978 and 1994.
The potential use(s) of Conservation District lands are numerous. During the past few years, the OCCL has administered CDUA's for: open ocean aquaculture projects; telescopes on top of Mauna Kea and Haleakala; major power line projects on scenic ridges; telecommunication facility projects; Single Family Residences (SFR); Parks; and Commercial Forestry projects to name a few.
These subzones define a set of "identified land uses" which may be allowed by discretionary permit. The OCCL can only accept a permit application for an identified land use listed under the particular subzone covering the subject property. Most of the identified land uses require a discretionary permit or some sort of approval from the DLNR or BLNR. Major permits are required for land uses, which have the greatest potential impact, and an environmental assessment and/or an EIS is required (and may also require a Public Hearing); minor permits are required for land uses which may have fewer impacts, decision making is delegated to the Board Chairperson (and may not require a Public Hearing) or to the OCCL for other minor uses.