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South Maui’s Controversial Development May Move Forward Under LUC Ruling

“… we are committed to moving forward in a partnership that includes the community, the county and the state.”

July 4, 2013
Susan Halas - Contributing Writer (wailukusue@gmail.com) , Maui Weekly

One chapter ended and a new chapter began in the much-debated Kihei outlet and retail shopping centers known as Pi'ilani Promenade and proposed 250 units of proposed apartment housing. On June 27, the state Land Use Commission granted the developer's motion and allowed the landowners to scrap their controversial initial plans and submit an amended and revised "mixed-use" version by the end of the year.

At issue before the state Land Use Commission (LUC) was a project that began its life in 1994 as 123-unit, fee-simple, light-industrial area. It lay dormant for many years and finally resurfaced in a substantially different form.

The action to "show cause" and effectively reconsider whether the proposed development met the original conditions was brought by a group of interveners--South Maui Citizens for Responsible Growth, Maui Tomorrow Foundation and Kihei resident Daniel Kanahele. They argued that the proposed Pi'ilani Promenade and adjacent apartment complex violated conditions approved earlier by the LUC. The LUC upheld their argument and found three violations of the original order.

Article Photos

A Motion to Amend by year’s end will provide the state Land Use Commission and the public a detailed description of the new proposed mixed-use project, including retail, light industrial, public space and housing. The action will also trigger a new environmental impact statement (EIS). Both actions will provide the public an opportunity to comment on the new development.
Photo: Debra Lordan

This latest LUC ruling allows the developers a Stay on any Decision and Order (D&O) from the commission on the finding of the violations, and permits the owner to submit a Motion to Amend by year's end. The new filing will provide the commission and the public a detailed description of any new proposed mixed-use, including retail, light industrial, commercial, public and housing.

This will also trigger a new environmental impact statement (EIS) and provide the public an opportunity to comment on the new project. The lack of public comment has been a bone of contention from the outset.

Two motions filed by the interveners were denied. The vote of the commission meeting in Kahului was unanimous. A condition attached to the decision stated that no work is to begin on the site until the amended version of the proposed project has been filed.

Following the meeting, Robert D. Poynor, a spokesperson for the landowner, released a statement, saying, "We are pleased that this aspect of the state Land Use decision process has been concluded, and with this decision, we are committed to moving forward in a partnership that includes the community, the county and the state. We believe the project will be beneficial to the community. We plan to file a Motion to Amend by the end of the year that will describe the project in detail and give the public an opportunity to comment fully."

Poynor is vice president of development and construction for Sarofim Realty Advisors in Dallas, Texas. Sarofim took over the project from Eclipse Development of Irvine, California, which is no longer associated with the project.

Asked for comment, Irene Bowie, executive director Maui Tomorrow Foundation, one of the interveners, said, "While we appreciate this time and consideration the commissioners put into this matter, we feel a written Decision and Order was appropriate and would have provided procedural certainty going forward."

Specific details will be a part of the Motion to Amend and the EIS.

The county Department of Planning and state Office of Planning filed papers in support of granting the developers until Dec. 31 to amend their proposed project.

Meetings to discuss the project have been held between representatives of Sarofim Realty Advisors and the Kihei Community Association (KCA) on June 4, 14 and 28.

On June 12, the KCA sent a lengthy letter to Poynor asking for specifics: "To date," the KCA letter said, "all we know is that a mixed-use project is likely consisting of retail, 'bona fide' light industrial uses and apartments. We don't know what that mix will be or where the various uses will be located on the property."

Among the other items raised in KCA's communication was a request that the developer consider "project district" classification as a better future designation for the eventual development of the area.

On June 21, Sarofim Realty Advisors responded to the KCA: "The process of taking design discussion ideas and starting preliminary layout plans is an essential first step in the design process. Early discussions with the KCA allows for continued input and discussion avoiding major changes or miscommunications later in the process." The letter concluded by saying, "We believe meeting this month [June 28] with a plan showing general layouts to address points listed in your letter is beneficial to the project and the community, and is part of the open communication we committed to in the June 4th meeting."

(Read the entire KCA letter online at www.gokihei.org/environment/kca-communicates-with-sarofim-realty-advisers-regarding-commercial-development.)

No future date has yet been set for the commission to hear an amended proposal.

Legal documents filed by all parties to this dispute can be seen online at

luc.hawaii.gov/pending-petitions-2/boundary-amendments/a94-706-kauonoulu-ranch.

 
 

 

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