Thursday, October 7, 1999

Permit for developer
angers Maui residents

By Gary T. Kubota


LAHAINA -- A group of Valley Isle residents is criticizing the county Planning Department for administratively issuing a shoreline permit to a developer.

Na Kupuna O Maui members say the application by Launiupoko Associates should have been reviewed by the Maui Planning Commission.

But Launiupoko Associates and the department say the objection has been filed too late and people already are moving into the Mahanalua Nui agricultural subdivision.

A public meeting about the project is scheduled for Tuesday before the Planning Commission. The meeting starts at 9 a.m. at the Planning Conference Room in Wailuku.

The county also has raised questions about Na Kupuna's right to appeal the department's decision, noting the group does not own land in the vicinity of the project.

The 433-acre project, subdivided into 50 agricultural lots, is south of Lahaina town and mauka of Launiupoko State Park.

A portion of the project's access road is in the special-management area regulated by the county.

Under county rules, the planning director may issue a minor shoreline permit if the cost of improvements is under $125,000 and there are no significant environmental impacts.

Group spokesman Edwin Lindsey said members believe the roadway improvements totaled more than $125,000 and disagree with the department's decision in August 1998 that the project will have no significant environmental impact.

Na Kupuna has raised questions about the adequacy of archaeological and drainage studies, and the potential impact of storm runoff and traffic at nearby Launiupoko State Park.

Jim Riley, a partner with Launiupoko Associates, said more than 30 lots already have been sold, and people who have sold their former homes are moving into the subdivision.

"It's too far down the road," Riley said. "Too many people have made too many decisions."

Riley said the project was reviewed by about 15 government agencies, including the state Historic Preservation Division. Changes in the plan were made based on various agencies' recommendations and the developer has set aside two parcels totaling 31 acres for historic preservation, he said.

Riley also said engineers determined that with its improvements, the subdivision will be reducing the amount of storm runoff.

Lindsey said the Planning Department never sent a notice to the commission about the administrative decision to issue a special-management area minor permit to the developer.

County procedures require the planning director to inform the commission about the administrative issuance of shoreline permits.

Planning Director John Min said he discovered the breach in procedures earlier this year after his appointment by Mayor James Apana.

Min said the department now not only notifies the commission when a shoreline permit is issued administratively, but also informs the commission when an administrative permit is pending before the department.

Min said he's not aware of any other applications like Mahanalua Nui's that are being challenged.

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