Tuesday, October 26, 1999

Maui project raises
burial, traffic issues

By Gary T. Kubota


PAIA, Maui -- Some Maui residents are worried that a plan to build homes in Spreckelsville will bring urban sprawl to rural Paia town and destroy coastal sand dunes where they remember seeing human remains.

"On the beach, I know there are burials," said Rene Sylva, recalling how the shoreline looked in the 1930s. "The skulls used to roll down the beach. Sometimes you could see seven or eight of them."

A number of environmentalists and native Hawaiians are protesting Alexander & Baldwin Inc.'s plan to develop 300 to 400 homes along with a golf course mauka of Hana Highway and a housing subdivision makai near the dunes.

A Maui Council committee public hearing about the project has drawn so many people that officials expect to hear testimony at a series of three meetings.

So far, 34 people have testified out of more than 90 on a waiting list.

The hearing, which began Oct. 14, has been continued to Nov. 3 at 6 p.m. at the Maui County Council Chambers in Wailuku.

The Maui/Lanai Islands Burial Council, responding to complaints from residents, plans to visit the dunes Thursday.

Burial Council Vice Chairwoman Dana Hall says she feels more archaeological study is needed to determine the location of the human remains and the impact of the housing development and a bikeway on the sand dunes.

Mercer "Chubby" Vicens, vice president of A&B Properties Inc. and also a member of the burial council, said his firm proposes building the bikeway about 138 to 150 feet from the high-water mark and the homes are planned further inland.

Vicens said the bikeway has been set back even farther in places where the ocean is rougher along the coastline.

Vicens said he believes his firm can work with the state and county to lessen the impact of traffic from the Spreckelsville project.

He said the county is building a parking lot on the Kahului side of Paia to reduce traffic congestion.

Vicens said the state could create a right-turn lane from Hana Highway to Baldwin Avenue by eliminating a few diagonal parking spaces.

Paia merchant Clifford Green said he'd like to see Alexander & Baldwin build a road from the development that allows traffic out of the subdivision mauka of Paia town.

"It could be a win-win situation," Green said.

Sierra Club of Maui spokeswoman Lucienne de Naie says the 400-unit development places too much stress on the two-lane Hana Highway.

De Naie said that at 4 p.m. on a weekday, traffic often is backed up about a mile to two miles out of Paia town and the new development will worsen congestion.

"It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see ... it's going to impact the traffic," she said.

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