Turtle Bay Resort should prepare impact statement
INTUITIVELY, logically, ethically and responsibly, everyone knows that a supplemental environmental impact statement should be prepared before the developers at Turtle Bay Resort are allowed to proceed. We at "Keep the North Shore Country" believe the courts will add "legally" to this list of reasons.
According to Kuilima Resort Co., the folks who want to expand Turtle Bay Resort on Oahu's North Shore from 500 to 4,000 hotel and condo units, an environmental impact statement completed in 1985 is as valid today as it might have been 21 years ago.
Inconveniently for the developer, virtually nobody has come out in support of the project as proposed, while the list of opponents is overwhelming.
Gov. Linda Lingle spoke at the Hawaii Republican Party Convention in strong support of "Resolution: Reevaluation of the Kuilima Expansion Project," which was approved by the Republican Party.
Former Gov. George Ariyoshi wrote in a Hawaii Business Magazine article, "In my view, we had best do what we can to preserve the rural character of the Windward side. Everyone seems to value it. People do want the country to be truly country."
The state Senate unanimously passed Senate Resolution 131 "Calling for Rigorous Reexamination of the Development Expansion Plan at Turtle Bay Resort Due to the Passage of Time and Changed Conditions of the North Shore." The state House of Representatives moved a similar resolution.
Honolulu City Council Chairman Donovan Dela Cruz submitted two resolutions to try to resolve the matter, but corporation counsel, the city attorneys, advised against any action or comment from all city officials, so the resolutions are indefinitely deferred.
A grass-roots organization called Defend Oahu Coalition recently delivered to Mayor Mufi Hannemann's office a petition from 5,000 individuals who oppose the expansion plans.
Keep the North Shore Country filed legal action to require the Honolulu Department of Planning and Permitting to order an SEIS. The Sierra Club's Hawaii chapter joined in our legal action, which has subsequently been consolidated by the court with a similar action by Local 5 Unite Here.
The State of Hawaii Environmental Council, which is responsible for promulgating the state's environmental review rules, voted unanimously to ask the DPP why the proposed development did not have a supplemental EIS. The council even identified specific rules that trigger the need for an SEIS. The DPP did not answer, on advice from corporation counsel.
Although the DPP refuses to address the question of the SEIS, they continue processing the permit application and might be preparing to issue preliminary subdivision approval. The developer then might herald preliminary subdivision approval as proof that they were right all along and that the matter is closed. This would be inaccurate because the legal proceedings will not be affected.
Since we believe that the courts will compel the DPP to order an SEIS, we also believe that the DPP would compound the problem by issuing preliminary subdivision approval before the courts have a chance to hear the case. Indeed, they should have already required an SEIS as part of the Subdivision/Shoreline Management Area Permit review process.
Our lawsuit reasonably calls for an SEIS and nothing more. After so many years of inactivity on a 20-year-old plan, the developer and the DPP should slow down, heed the will of the public and do what everyone knows they should do: prepare a supplemental environmental impact statement.
Gil Riviere is president of Keep the North Shore Country.