Sunshine suit has court stop county’s work on Wailea site
WAILUKU » A Maui circuit judge issued an order yesterday halting further county action in advancing a multimillion-dollar development in Wailea.
Judge Joseph Cardoza ruled several residents could likely prevail in their lawsuit charging that the Maui County Council violated the Hawaii Sunshine Law while holding public meetings about the proposed Wailea 670 project.
The proposed project received land use approvals codified in measures signed into law April 8 by Maui Mayor Charmaine Tavares.
The proposed project in South Maui encompasses 670 acres and includes 700 "affordable units" and 700 market-priced units.
Attorney Lance Collins, representing the residents, said Cardoza's ruling effectively halts the county from treating the development as if it were passed under the law.
Collins said he believes the public meetings need to be held again.
"My clients are hoping that the public will be given a fair opportunity to discuss all issues of Wailea 670 and not just have it rammed through," he said.
Wailea 670 spokesman Charles Jencks said preparation for the project is continuing but that he understands Cardoza's ruling means no county permits can be obtained at this time.
Deputy Corporation Counsel Mary Blaine Johnston said it was unclear whether the bills passed by the County Council are void.
Collins said the Hawaii Sunshine Law requires the Council to allow public testimony on every agenda item at every meeting and prohibits councilmembers from discussions outside open meetings.
Collins alleged the Council's Land Use Committee chairman, Michael Molina, did not give the public an opportunity to testify at each meeting because the Council recessed a meeting several times. Public testimony was not allowed at the subsequent meetings because they were a continuation of the original meeting, where people were allowed to testify.
Collins charged that prior to the Feb. 8 meeting and reconvened meeting of Feb. 11 and 14, councilmembers had written memorandums to each other discussing amendments that they were going to propose and did propose.