Not since the Superferry fiasco in 2009 has a topic been as contentious and divisive as the proposed Pi'ilani Promenade and Maui Outlet Mall planned for Kihei.
The 700,000-square-foot South Maui retail complex plan, which seemingly flew under the radar until recently, includes two individual malls mauka of the Pi'ilani Highway-Ka'ono'ulu Street intersection.
The Pi'ilani Promenade is 400,000 square feet on 68 acres and the Maui Outlet Mall is 300,000 square feet on a 30-acre site.
Meanwhile, the long-overdue Kihei High School "dream" has yet to become a reality just south of the giant malls.
The mall area was zoned light industrial back in the 1990s. Many feel that neither the spirit nor the letter of the law indicate that mega-malls would be built in this area.
Maui Tomorrow is looking to go before the Maui County Board of Variances and Appeals and the state Land Use Commission hoping for administrative remedies so that a court action won't be necessary.
Although the developer, Eclipse Development Group, was invited to the June 19 Kihei Community Association meeting to discuss plans with panel and community members, it's likely that the mention of a lawsuit played a part in their no-show at the discussion. Or maybe they feel there is nothing left to discuss.
"We didn't get community input, but I'm confident they will like it," said Eclipse Development Group CEO/President Douglas Gray. He said he has never seen "a community dislike what we build."
Until now. The bulldozer at the site serves as the vortex of protests by Maui Tomorrow, South Maui Citizens for Responsible Growth and other concerned citizens, and dozens of letters in newspapers express concerns about the project.
Because Maui residents obviously want to be heard on this issue, the Maui Weekly has set up a poll at www.mauiweekly.com in the right-hand column, about halfway down the page. Results will be given to the Kihei Community Association.
To make an informed decision, read the history of this issue at mauiweekly.com: "Mega-Mall Projects Spark Kihei Protests" (June 26), "Maui residents protest proposed Kihei mega-mall projects" (June 7), "Maui Tomorrow, South Maui citizens file suit over planned mega-malls in Kihei" (May 31), "KCA Confronts Projected Development Plans" (May 24), "Plans for Kihei Mega-Mall Questioned" (April 26), "Now Leasing: Maui Outlets Center" (Feb. 10, 2011), "Retail Centers Set Mauka of Pi'ilani Highway" (Feb. 3, 2011), and find many letters, commentaries and blogs in the opinion section.
Whether you welcome more shopping options, or don't want more of paradise paved, don't be silent. You now have an easy opportunity to voice your opinion.