26.0221 Special Management Areas.

Cite as [A.S.A.C. § 26.0221]

A. Special Management Areas mean those areas duly designated by the Act or the provisions of this chapter that possess unique and irreplaceable habitat, products or materials, offer beneficial functions or affect the cultural values or quality of life significant to the general population of the Territory and fa’aSamoa.

B. Designated Special Management Areas

1. The following boundaries delineate the Special Management Areas of American Samoa:

a. Pago Pago Harbor Special Management Area is delineated by a line drawn from Goat Island Point to the jetty at Leloaloa and includes all land and water resources on the sami side of the American Samoa Highway 001 paralleling the shoreline around the Pago Pago harbor;

b. The Leone Pala Lagoon is delineated by a line drawn parallel with the shoreline at the ocean terminus of the Leafu stream, and adjacent wetlands as delineated by the provisions of this chapter; and

c. The Nu’uuli Pala Lagoon is delineated by a line drawn from Avatele Point, the eastern most point of the airport, to Mulinu’u Point, the nearest part of Coconut Point, and includes all water resources of the lagoon, plus adjacent wetlands as delineated by the provisions of this chapter.

1. Boundary maps, at a minimum of 1”=2’ scale, for all wetland areas included as Special Management Areas shall be maintained for public inspection at the Department of Commerce.

2. Any proposed project, use or action in a Special Management Area shall be deemed a major project, and all proposed projects, uses, or activities in any Special Management Area, other than the Pago Pago Harbor Special Management Area, shall require a public hearing as provided by this chapter.

C. Policy for Special Management Areas

1. The functions, values and benefits of Special Management Areas shall be protected so that their benefits can be enjoyed by present and future generations of the Territory.

2. Actions that degrade, limit, or eliminate Special Management Areas functions, values, and benefits to the public shall be prohibited.

3. Lagoon, and reef areas. Any project proposed for location within a designated Special Management Area which also is characterized as a lagoon or reef area shall comply with the following standards:

a. subsistence usage of coastal areas and resources shall be insured;

b. living marine resources, particularly fishery resources, shall be maintained for optimum sustainable yields;

c. adverse impacts to reefs and corals shall be prevented;

d. lagoon and reef areas shall maintain or enhance subsistence, commercial and sport fisheries;

e. lagoon and reef areas shall be protected to assure the maintenance of natural water flows, natural circulation patterns, natural nutrient and oxygen levels and to avoid the discharge of toxic wastes, sewage, petroleum products, siltation and destruction of productive habitat;

f. areas and objects of historic and cultural significance shall be preserved and maintained; and

g. underwater preservation areas shall be designated.

4. Wetland areas. Any project proposed for location within a designated Special Management Area and a wetland shall be evaluated to determine its compatibility with this section and the wetlands section of this chapter.

5. Shoreline Areas. Any project proposed for location within a designated Special Management Area and a shoreline area shall be evaluated to determine its compatibility with this section, the wetlands section of this chapter, and with the following standards:

a. the impact of on shore activities upon wildlife, marine or aesthetic resources shall be minimized;

b. the effects of shoreline development on natural beach processes shall be minimized;

c. removal of hazardous debris from beaches and coastal areas shall be required; and

d. where possible, public landholding along the shore shall be maintained and increased, for the purpose of access and hazard mitigation; and in addition to deciding whether the proposed project is consistent with the above standards, Board members shall consider the following in their review of coastal land permit applications:

(1) whether the proposed project is water-dependent or water-related in nature;

(2) whether the proposed project is to facilitate or enhance coastal recreational, subsistence, or cultural opportunities (i.e. docking, fishing, swimming, picnicking, navigation devices);

(3) whether the existing land use including the existence of roadways, has irreversibly committed the area to uses compatible with the proposed project, particularly water-oriented uses, and provided that the proposed project does not create cumulative and secondary adverse impacts;

(4) whether the proposed project is single-family dwelling in an existing residential area and would occur on private property owned by the same owner as of the effective date of the program, of which all or a significant portion is located in the Special Management Areas or no reasonable alternative is open to the property owner to trade land, relocate or sell to the government;

(5) whether the proposed project would be safely located on a rocky shoreline and would cause adverse impacts to wildlife, marine or scenic resources;

(6) whether the proposed project is designated to prevent or mitigate shoreline erosion; and

(7) whether the proposed project would be more appropriately located in the port and industrial area.

6. Notwithstanding any other provisions of this chapter, any proposed project, use or action in the Pago Pago Harbor Special Management Area shall be evaluated in connection with the following objectives and priorities of use:

a. The Pago Pago Harbor area shall be developed to emphasize:

(1) the value as a working port and safe harbor; and

(2) to protect the natural resources and water quality;

b. Priorities of use:

(1) Water-dependent uses and activities shall have highest priority.

(2) Water-related uses and activities shall have second priority.

(3) Uses and activities which are neither water-dependent nor water-related, but which are compatible with water-dependent and water-related uses and activities or are for recreational activities or a public use shall receive third priority.

(4) All other uses and activities shall have lowest priority and will normally be denied.

c. Any project proposed for location as a port or industrial project in the Pago Pago Harbor Special Management Area shall comply with the following standards:

(1) siting of port and industrial development shall comply with the long-term economic and social goals of the Territory;

(2) development proposals shall be considered from the perspective of port-related opportunities and constraints which are applicable to the Territory;

(3) the limited availability of the port and industrial resources shall be recognized in making land use allocation decisions;

(4) development shall ensure respect for the Territory’s inherent natural beauty;

(5) shoreline locations shall be limited to water-dependent and water-related projects;

(6) the amount of shoreline frontage utilized by any project, regardless of the extent to which the project may be water-dependent, shall be minimized to the greatest extent practicable; and

(7) to the maximum extent practicable, petroleum based coastal energy facilities shall be located within the port and industrial area.

D. Procedures to establish a Special Management Area

1. Pursuant to the Act, the Board is authorized to recommend to the Governor areas of the Territory to be designated as Special Management Areas, and authorized to propose modifications to the established boundary of any existing Special Management Area.

2. The following procedures shall apply to nominations for designation or modification of the boundary of a Special Management Area:

a. Proposals. Any territorial agency, any public funded organization representing no less than twenty-five (25) members, or no less than twenty-five (25) members of the public, may propose to the Board the designation or modification of a Special Management Area.

b. Supporting documentation. Proposals for the designation or modification of a Special Management Area shall include detailed documentation supporting the proposal. The documentation shall address the criteria for consideration set forth in this section, and may include other information pertinent to the area proposed for designation or modification.

c. Public Notice. Within thirty (30) days of receipt by the Board of the proposal for designation or modification, the Board shall cause to be published in a newspaper of general circulation, at least once a week for three (3) consecutive weeks, public notice of the proposed designation or nomination. The Board shall further cause such public notice to be personally served upon the Secretary of Samoan Affairs and the pulenu’u of each village adjacent to a proposed Special Management Area. Such notice shall describe the area involved, advise the public that a record of the proposal is available for inspection, that comments by the public will be accepted for a period of forty-five (45) days from date of first publication of the notice, that comments received will be considered by the Board in reviewing the proposal, and advising the public of the places and dates of no less than two (2) public hearings which shall be held in order to consider the proposal.

d. Technical findings. On all proposals to designate or modify a Special Management Area, technical findings on the proposal and its potential impacts shall be prepared by each Board member agency. The Board member agency shall determine the appropriateness of the proposal to that agency’s respective jurisdiction and permitting authority, and may further comment on the appropriateness of the proposal under the Act and the provisions of this chapter. The technical findings shall be prepared and made available to the public prior to the public hearings, and shall be considered by the Board in making its decision.

e. Public hearings. Within forty-five (45) days of the receipt of a proposal for designation or modification of the boundary of a Special Management Area, no less than two public hearings shall be held to consider the proposal. One public hearing shall be held at a place convenient to the general public. A second public hearing shall be held at or as near as reasonably practicable to the area affected by the proposal.

f. The Project Notification and Review System decisions to nominate. Within thirty (30) days of the closure of the comment period, upon review of the entire record of the proposal for designation or modification of a Special Management Area, including technical findings, supporting documentation, and public comments, the Board shall determine whether to nominate the proposal to the Governor. The Board may, in accepting a proposal for nomination, make minor amendments to the proposal; provided that any amendment which increases the size of the affected area, or alters the nature of the designation, shall require further public hearings in accordance with this section. A decision by the Board to nominate, nominate with amendments, or deny the proposal shall be accompanied by written findings of fact and conclusions of law.

g. Upon a decision by the Board to nominate to the Governor a proposal to designate or modify a Special Management Area, the Manager shall certify the nomination as being in compliance, or not in compliance, with the Act and the provisions of this chapter. If in compliance, the Manager shall transmit the nomination to the Governor for approval. The nomination shall be either approved, or disapproved, by the Governor within thirty (30) days of receipt of the nomination. The Governor’s decision to approve, or disapprove, is final.

E. Criteria for designation or modification of a Special Management Area

1. In reviewing a proposal for designation or modification of a Special Management Area, the Board shall consider the following natural resource criteria for special management status:

a. areas of unique, scarce, fragile, or vulnerable natural habitat or areas of historical significance, cultural value, or scenic importance (including resources on or eligible for the National Register of Historic Places);

b. areas of high natural productivity or critical habitat for living resources, including threatened or endangered species;

c. areas of outstanding recreational value or potential;

d. areas which, if development were permitted, might be subject to significant hazard due to storms, landslides, floods, erosion, settlement, or salt water intrusion.

e. areas needed to protect, maintain, or replenish coastal lands or resources, including coastal floodplain, aquifers and their recharge areas, estuaries, coral reefs and beaches; or

f. areas needed for the preservation or restoration of coastal resources due to the value of those resources for conservation, recreational, ecological, or aesthetic purposes.

2. The following commercial criteria shall also be considered for special management status:

a. areas where developments and facilities are dependent either upon the utilization of, or access to, coastal waters or of geographic significance for industrial or commercial development;

b. areas of urban concentration where shoreline utilization and water uses are highly competitive;

History: Rule 8-80 (Ex. Ord. 03-80); ASCMP Reg. (Ex. Ord. 07-88); Rule 2-97, eff 4 Aug 97.