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Makena Resort restarts talks of expansion


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POSTED: Thursday, November 20, 2008

WAILUKU » Expansion of the Makena Resort was debated four years ago, and the project was halted. But now it's back.

While those in the resort and construction industry expressed hope that more building at the Makena Resort will help a slumping Maui economy, some residents at a Maui County Council committee meeting yesterday again expressed concern about the potential cultural and environmental impact.

Opponents said the proposal should be reviewed again as if it were new.

“;A lot has changed since 2004—water, our sustainable yield has changed,”; said Angie Hofmann, a Kihei resident. “;We need to protect these areas.”;

The new owners, Honua LLC and Keaka LLC, which purchased Makena Resort in May 2007, want to move forward with the development of 1,000 units, said its managing partner, Everett Dowling.

The former owner, Makena Resort Corp., an affiliate of the Seibu Corp., decided against moving forward with the development, noting difficulty with some of the 41 conditions imposed upon the project by the committee.

Dowling said the resort was an investor in a joint venture in the mid-1970s that brought water from Wailuku to South Maui and has enough water set aside by the county agreement for future use.

He said his investors also view using desalinization of brackish wells on the property as a “;viable option”; for providing drinking water.

The resort estimates the demand for potable water for the entire project will grow to 750,000 gallons a day.

The nine brackish wells have been pumping about 4.5 million gallons a day, and the resort has three other brackish wells, the resort estimated, the resort said.

Dowling said, based on a county ordinance requirement, his investors will also be developing 500 affordable-housing units in Kihei.

Declan McCarthy, a Maui Prince Hotel employee at the resort, said he supports the development and that many of the resort workers have family members with no jobs or reduced work hours.

“;In this climate of uncertainty, we must work very hard to attract visitors to our island,”; he said.

Public testimony was tentatively scheduled to resume this morning.

More than 125 people planned to testify during the hearing held by the Council's Land Use Committee.

A prior hearing in 2004 led to a marathon of testimony by more than 185 people.