By Megan Borthwick, Preservation Program Manager
The Hawai‘i Historic Places Review Board was established in 1976 within the Hawai‘i Revised Statutes Chapter 6E, which describes the State’s Historic Preservation Program. The Review Board consists of 10 members and is comprised of experts in the fields of archaeology, architecture, history, sociology, and Hawaiian culture. Members are appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the State Senate to serve a specified term on the board.
Hawai‘i Revised Statutes (HRS) §6E 5-5 lists the responsibilities of the Review Board, including reviewing the content of the State Historic Preservation Plan, and reviewing the state survey of historic properties. However, its primary role is ordering and entering historic properties onto the Hawai‘i Register of Historic Places, maintaining the Hawai‘i Register, and evaluating and recommending nominations for the National Register of Historic Places.
In order to fulfill its responsibilities, the Hawai‘i Historic Places Review Board holds public meetings approximately quarterly. Rules that govern procedures associated with the Review Board are found in Hawai‘i Administrative Rules (HAR) Title 13 Department of Land and Natural Resources Sub-title 8 Hawai‘i Historic Places Review Board Chapters 197-198.
Once a nomination for the Hawai‘i Register of Historic Places (the technical document justifying the historic property’s inclusion on the register) is complete, the nomination must go through a review and approval process. This process starts with the Architectural Branch staff at the State Historic Preservation Division. Once reviewed by the state architectural historians, the nomination is forwarded to the Hawai‘i Historic Places Review Board.
Upon receipt of a complete and sufficient nomination, the Review Board must schedule a hearing. Prior to the hearing, nominators and owners must be notified by certified mail 45 days in advance, allowing them 30 days to submit comments concurring or objecting the nomination. If the property is located within the jurisdiction of a Certified Local Government, notice is provided to the CLG 60 days before the hearing, giving the local preservation or cultural resources commission the opportunity to review and comment.
If the owner objects to the property’s listing on the State Register, the Review Board may proceed with designation, but the owner may appeal that decision through a contested case hearing (HAR 13-298-13 (1)(2)). If the owner objects to the listing of the property on the National Register, the nomination will only be considered as a Determination of Eligibility (HAR 13-298-4 (d)).
In a Review Board hearing, all parties are provided the opportunity to present testimony in favor or against the designation. These meetings are open to public and noticed per the Sunshine Law, with official notices posted and sent to members of the public who have asked to be notified, at least six calendar days prior to the meeting. At the public meeting, Review Board Members review the nomination and listen to testimony on each property. Their decisions are based on the National and Hawai‘i Register of Historic Places criteria, which are to be demonstrated in the nomination to justify the property’s inclusion. Designations are made by a majority vote of the Board. Following the decision, the Review Board notifies the nominators and owners by mail of the decision and order.
Properties may be removed from the Hawai‘i State Register of Historic Places by the Review Board following a parallel process consisting of written application to remove the property, public notice and hearing, with decisions to be based on limited considerations. Properties may be removed from the Register only if the qualities which caused the property to be listed have been destroyed; there is proof that there was an error in professional judgment; or for failure to follow procedures listed in the Administrative Rules (13-198-10 (1)(2)(3)).